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Ferdinand Victor Leon Roybet

French ( b.1840 - d.1920 )

Le Mousquetaire.

  • Oil on panel
  • Signed upper right

Image size 31.1 inches x 24.4 inches ( 79cm x 62cm )
Frame size 39 inches x 32.3 inches ( 99cm x 82cm )


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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset, this original oil painting by the French artist Ferdinand Roybet dates from around 1880.
The painting is presented and supplied in a period frame dating from about 20 years after the painting’s creation.
The painted surface has been restored and cleaned whilst in previous ownership. We are of the opinion that this work was performed in the last 10-15 years.
Today, this antique painting is in very good condition as a result of the previous work. It is supplied ready to hang and display.
The painting is signed upper right.
Previously with JJ Gillespie & Co of 422 Wood Street, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

Ferdinand Victor Leon Roybet was a successful French artist, acclaimed for his magnificent portraits of well-dressed male figures set in the 16th and 17th centuries. He is particularly recognised for his Spanish cavalier themed works, of which this is an excellent example. Roybet’s works are reminiscent of those of the 17th century Spanish artist Diego Velázquez, and notable for their realism and the artist’s dramatic use of colour and execution of detail.

Ferdinand Roybet was born in Uzčs, a commune in the Gard department in the Occitaine region of Southern France, on 12th April 1840. His parents were Louis Charles Florent, Roybet, a café owner and liquor manufacturer, and Francoise Cotte. When Ferdinand was 6 the family moved to Lyon.

Ferdinand began his artistic training at 13 by studying at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts at Lyon. He initially learned the fundamentals of drawing in the studio of Joseph Vibert and befriended the Realist painter Antoine Vollon.

Ferdinand married Amélie Louise Rollion and had a baby daughter in the early 1860s and, after his father died in 1863, he took his young family to Paris. His friend Vollon had already moved to Paris and assisted Roybet in finding a suitable place to live and introducing him to the Parisian arts community. Roybet then studied with the famed Jean-Georges Vibert, firstly etching and then painting, and was able to make copies of some of the old masters at the Louvre. He worked hard and persevered, developing his own distinctive style,

In 1865 Roybet first presented two of his paintings at the Salon and they were well received by the public. The following year he presented his large painting entitled Jester of Henri III. This won a medal and captured the attention of art critics and contemporary collectors. It was purchased by Princess Mathilde Bonaparte for 5,000 francs, securing his reputation as a extremely promising young artist. His ability to capture lavish fabrics, intricacies of historic dress and evoke an engaging narrative was exceptional.

Roybet knew what he was good at and stuck to it; he chose to specialise in costumed figures, mostly from the 17th and 18th century and managed to secure a contract to produce three canvases a month for an annual salary of 25,000 francs.

After the siege of Paris Roybet began a period of travelling, including to Belgium.
In 1871 he travelled to Holland, where he studied the old masters and was greatly influenced by the techniques of Frank Hals, which he subsequently executed in his own works. He also studied the works of Rembrandt, Téniers, Rubens, Jordaens and Brouwer. In 1872, having returned to Paris, he set off again to Algeria, where he made many quill drawings, from which he earned a reputation as an Orientalist artist. From around this time Roybet began to paint the musketeers and gentlemen for which he is best known.

After several years of travelling Roybet returned again to Paris in triumph; he sold the works he had produced on his travels and was able to purchase a mansion. His painting Charles le Témeraire entrant ŕ chevel dans l’eglise de Nesle was a huge scene of historical reconstruction and was exhibited overseas, establishing his international reputation.

Roybet immersed himself in history and cultural heritage; he began collecting antiquities and works of art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. He turned his studio into a real museum of art from his favourite periods. His financial affairs may have been varied, as there are accounts of repossessions by creditors. However, his main residence, at 9 rue de Prony in the prestigious 17th arrondissement of Paris is an elegant six-story Beaux-Arts structure, which still stands today.

Roybet’s reputation as a superb artist endured, and in 1893 he was named a knight in the Legion of Honour. The same year he was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and in 1900 an Officer of the Legion of Honour. He was also awarded the House Medal at the Universal Exhibitions from Anvers, Berlin and Vienna.

In order to have a secure income, Roybet also established an international career as a portrait artist, depicting the American and French bourgeoisie in socially satisfying roles, often in period costume. One of his clients was Cornelius Vanderbilt, who paid 100,000 francs for one of his works at the Palais de l’Industrie in 1893.

Roybet’s success at the Paris Salon continued well into the 1990s and his works were shown in Venice and Copenhagen too. He visited Spain and Italy and the emphasis of his works progressively focused on the expression of various characters, as opposed to genre scenes of scale.

In his later years Roybet painted many religious subjects, in particular a tableau of 22 paintings depicting the Passion of Christ. These were given a special showing at the Salon the year after his death.

Roybet died at home in Paris on 10th April 1920, immediately before his eightieth birthday.
In 1927 Consuelo Fould, who had been a pupil of Roybet and owned many of his paintings, established a museum devoted to his work. The Roybet Fould Museum is located in the Bécon Park in Courbevoie and is an exceptional place for its architecture and rich history.
Roybet’s works can also be seen today in many prestigious museums and art galleries throughout Europe and the United States.

© Big Sky Fine Art

This magnificent oil on panel painting by Ferdinand Roybet is an excellent and mature example of the genre of works for which he is best known. It is signed by the artist in the upper right section of the painting.
The painting depicts a young male musketeer, dressed in red velvet buttoned tunic with a white ruffled shirt cuffs and collar. The subject is also wearing a wide brimmed black hat and the most amazing red cloak, draped over his left shoulder. He is holding in his left hand a pair of soft brown leather gloves. His hair is dark, long and curly, and he has both a moustache and beard. His brown eyes gaze out at the viewer with an ambiguous expression, serious and sincere, yet not aggressive.
This is a painting of huge impact and gravitas, with exquisite detail and extraordinary colour.