"Chevau-légers lanciers hollandais de la Garde" by Maurice Orange, 1867-1916.:
Artist bio info, Jacques Maurice Henri Orange Dieudonne:
Jacques Maurice Henri Orange Dieudonne, born in Granville March 9, 1867, is one of those historical painters who left imperishable works on the Napoleonic era. Yet few still remember his name. Real injustice here that we will fix it.
His father, Jacques Maurice Orange, a wine merchant by trade, died in 1872, leaving his wife and two young children: Maurice, then five years old, and Maria, the youngest. Now raised by his mother and his grandmother, grew up in Orange Maurice Granville, quoted he will never forget, even when it is asked to move to Paris. Meanwhile, he went to school in the old Norman town, where he was noted for his drawings of soldiers made in the margins of his notebooks (another one!). Like his great predecessors, his fate seems marked out in advance, it would be as a painter.
After a first design competition won in 1883 in the town of Cherbourg, the young Maurice Orange follows the course of Father Morin, a friend of Rude. Two years later he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, thanks to an award granted to him by the General Council of the Channel. In this place, he is extremely fortunate to benefit from the teaching of Gerome, which is dried up in his praise of his pupil: "I have nothing but good information to give to Mr. Orange in terms of his work and his projects. This is a very talented young man who deserves all the encouragement that will be given all the support that will be paid ... "And you can be sure that this esteem is reciprocal. Besides, we always feel the influence of Gérôme in the paintings of Maurice Orange, especially his paintings of oriental inspiration.
In 1886, Maurice Orange is already showing an astonishing mastery of his art, which allows him to exhibit at the Salon of French Artists from that year. But that does not stop him from wanting to improve, he will seek further training at the Academy Julian (from 1889 to 1890), with Francois Flameng. It was also at the Academie Julian he met Edouard Detaille. The two men shared a passion for military history, the sympathy between them is immediate and reciprocal. Moreover, the influence of Detaille, like Gerome and Flameng, will be decisive in the choice of topics covered by Maurice Orange, primarily focused on the epic of the Great Army.
In 1889, Maurice Orange has the opportunity to work for illustration, including famous newspaper that reproduce, in its edition of May 2, 1891, his famous painting inspired by the poem by Théophile Gautier, "The Medal of St. Helena" work so moving where you can see, in particular a former captain of light infantry, weak and emaciated, lean on the arm of a young infantry officer, which raises the old soldier a look full of respect for both and concern. This painting, completed in 1891, would earn its author a third class medal at the Salon of French Artists, but also, and above all, a travel grant that will allow it to go to Spain. This trip, Maurice Orange will bring a considerable number of studies and small paintings, most often shipped directly to her mother from Spain, and one of his paintings including masterpieces, "The Defenders of Zaragoza (1809)," is certainly inspired. Moreover, it is the latter table, presented in 1893, which opened the doors of Egypt, after making him get a second travel grant and a second class medal.
It will stay in Egypt, for Maurice Orange, the best experience of his life. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the sites visited, he did not forget to call as many studies that will allow, once back in France, to create paintings of great interest and almost all related to the campaign of 1798 . As he himself wrote in a letter to Luxor on January 20, 1894: "... there are monuments that date back to 3000 BC, so I hope to take advantage by painting a large picture of the admirable campaign in Egypt. I also saw the island of Philae which lies a few miles farther qu'Assuan. There is a temple of the goddess Isis and the main tower I saw an inscription that would please any French proud of his country, here as I copied my travel album! The sixth year of the Republic on 12 Thermidor, a French army commanded by Napoleon fell in Alexandria, the army having been twenty days after the Mamelukes at the Pyramids on the run. Desaix commanding the 1st division, has continued beyond the ca taractes where he arrived on 13 Messidor Year VII ... "
Back in Paris, Maurice Orange regularly visits his friends, among whom was Edward Detaille course. Having become an expert in uniformology, Maurice Orange will be among the first to animate "The Sabretache" the research firm of Military History, founded in 1891 and whose first president was, one suspects, Edward Detaille. The first goal of this company was none other than the military authorities to obtain the creation of an Army Museum, museum that is ultimately created a few years later at the Invalides.
In 1899, Maurice Orange was asked to collaborate on "The Giberne" magazine in military uniforms, and will work for this publication until 1901. Meanwhile, he is driven to illustrate the book by Louis Fallou on "Imperial Guard", a book which he will copy Detaille after adding an original watercolor.
The year 1908 will see Maurice Orange marry Germaine Villain, which give him a son in 1911 named Michael. This fills the birth more than is imaginable. At the same time, the new "family responsibilities" it has become, is concerned to ensure the survival of this little world. His appointment in 1913 as official painter to the War Department allows him to face the future with a little more serenity. But the First World War broke out soon, bringing with it its share of pain and suffering. Some time ago, Maurice Orange had signed one of his finest paintings, "The Last Victory, Reims (1814)" (prescient work if any).
Although it is not sent to the front, Maurice Orange died February 28, 1916, at the age of 49 years, carried away by typhoid. One that showed "the patience of a Meissonier and perfection of a linear Detaille" is buried in Notre Dame Cemetery, Granville.
We have come to the end of this article, regretting that he could not give room for other great painters of the epic. Such is the case of Edward Detaille, official painter of the 3rd Republic, whose immense work was hardly mentioned. Yet it is one of the major singers of the Grand Army, having never glorified the "Achilles of Iliad that Homer did not invent." Imperial Guard cavalry and owe particular lot, as evidenced by this wonderful painting of "Colonel Lepic at Eylau, February 8, 1807." But do not forget all those lesser known, fell into the darkness where one has placed France suddenly became amnesiac. Each in his manner and his talent, has contributed to the immortality of the Napoleonic era. Also, do they deserve that they render homage here.
Today, their example has led some vocations, unable to speak for as many renewal of painting devoted to the Napoleonic gesture. Among all those who try, today, in this difficult exercise, an American artist seems to rise above the other by his talent that is reminiscent of a Meissonier and other Detaille. This is, of course, Keith Rocco, whose knowledge of uniformology vie with those of his illustrious predecessors. May he be emulated so that the Great Epic live forever through the magic of paint!
Pascal Cazottes, FINS "