Paul Delaroche (1797-1856)

Paul Delaroche (1797-1856). Portrait of Eugene Lami, 1834. Pencil, charcoal and colored chalk on paper, measures 9 x 7 5/8 in. (sight); 17 1/4 x 15 3/4 in. (frame). Signed, dated and dedicated lower margin. No damage or restoration. Sheet mounting: hinged with archival materials. Provenance: Estate of David M. Daniels.



Hippolyte De La Roche (17 July 1797 – 4 November 1856), commonly known as Paul Delaroche, was a French painter. He was born and died in Paris. Delaroche was trained by Antoine-Jean, Baron Gros, who then painted life-size histories and had many students.

The first Delaroche picture exhibited was the large Jehosheba saving Joash (1822). This exhibition led to his acquaintance with Théodore Géricault and Eugène Delacroix, with whom he became friends. The three of them formed the core of a large group of Parisian historical painters. He visited Italy in 1838 and 1843, when his father-in-law,Horace Vernet, was director of the French Academy in Rome.

Delaroche’s studio in Paris was in the Rue Mazarine. His subjects were painted with a firm, solid, smooth surface, which gave an appearance of the highest finish. This texture was the manner of the day and was also found in the works of Vernet, Ary SchefferLouis Léopold Robert and Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres. Among his students were British landscape artist Henry Mark Anthony (1817–1886), British history painters Edward Armitage R.A. (1817–1896) and Charles Lucy (1814–1873), and American painter/photographer Alfred L. Boisseau (1823–1901).


Delaloche and Lami were lifelong friends, having studied together under Antoine-Jean Gros.

An anecdote about Lami and Delaroche:

Eugene Lami lived in the Rue des Marais, the greater part of which was subsequently demolished to make room for the Boulevard de Magenta, and in the same house with two men whose names have become immortal, Honore de Balzac and Paul Delaroche. I have already spoken of both, but I did not mention the incident that led to the painter’s acquaintance with the novelist, an incident so utterly fanciful that the boldest farce-writer would think twice before utilizing it in a play. It was told to me by Lami himself. One morning, as he and Paul Delaroche were working, there was a knock at the door, and a stout individual, dressed in a kind of monastic garb, appeared on the threshold. Delaroche remembered that he had met him on the staircase, but neither knew who he was, albeit that Balzac’s fame was not altogether unknown to them. “Gentlemen,” said the visitor, “I am Honore Balzac, a neighbour and a confrere to boot. My chattels are about to be seized, and I would ask you to save a remnant of my library.”
Of course, the request was granted. The books were stowed away behind the pictures; and, after that, Balzac often dropped in to have a chat with them, but neither Delaroche nor Lami, the latter least of all, ever conceived a sincere liking for the great novelist. Their characters were altogether dissimilar. I have seen a good many men whose names have become household words among the refined, the educated, and the art-loving all the world over; I have seen them at the commencement, in the middle, and at the zenith of their career: I have seen none more indifferent to the material benefits of their art than Eugene Lami and Paul Delaroche, not even Eugene Delacroix and Decamps. Balzac was the very reverse. To make a fortune was the sole ambition of his life.
from An Englishman in Paris, Albert Dresden Vandam, 1892.