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Old Man Before a Prie-Dieu
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Old Man Before a Prie-Dieu

Description Conservation Exhibitions Provenance Inscription Credit
Description Nicolas-Toussaint Charlet conveyed the fascinating complexity of early 19th-century French class structure and social change in "Old Man before a Prie-Dieu." Perhaps the solemn mood of the image relates to the devastating cholera epidemic that swept France in 1832, killing 18,000, mostly poor, Parisians. The central character has placed his walking stick against the prie-dieu on which he leans in front of a side altar in a medieval church. His hair is wild and ungroomed, and his dark wool overcoat, breeches, and silver buckled shoes are worn and unkempt, identifying him as an indigent aristocrat. His piety unites him with the bearded vagabond on the left, who kneels nearly prostrate to join in prayer at the side altar. In the background, a large congregation, including a Norman identifiable by her bonnet, a balding man, and a child, stands and faces the high altar. In contrast to the pious environment of the church, a shoeless street urchin of eight or nine leans in boredom against a column to the right of the aristocrat and stares up at the old man.
Date Description Narrative
4/20/1979Examinationexamined for exhibition
1/01/2002Treatmentexamined for exhibition; repaired
  • French Painting from David to Courbet. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit. 1950.
  • A Supple Brush: The Flowering of Continental Watercolors. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1979.
  • A Connoisseur's Portfolio: Nineteenth-century Drawings and Watercolors in the Walters Art Gallery. The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. 1983.
  • The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma. 2005-2006.
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Number] Verso in graphite: 14; [Signed and dated] Lower left, in brown ink: Charlet 1832
Credit Acquired by William T. Walters

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transparent watercolor over graphite underdrawing with scraping on cream, thick, moderately textured wove paper
(Painting & Drawing)
Accession Number
H: 6 15/16 x W: 5 3/16 in. (17.6 x 13.2 cm)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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