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Oil painting - Poultry


  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Lausanne (painted)

  • Date:

    1855 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bocion, François, born 1828 - died 1890 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev., Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

François Bocion (1828-1890) was born in Lausanne. He first trained with Christian Gottlieb Steinlen (1779-1847) in Vevey and subsequently with François Bonnet (1811-1894) in Lausanne. In Paris in 1845, Bocion entered the atelier of Louis-Aimé Grosclaude (1784-1869) and later that of Charles Gleyre (1806-1874) and befriended Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) and other important exponents of the Realist movement. Back in Lausanne in 1849 he became a teacher at the Ecole moyenne et industrielle of Lausanne, a position he held until his death. At the same time, he had an extensive output with several travels abroad. He exhibited in Paris, Vienna, Anvers, London and was a founder member of the Swiss society of watercolorists (1884).

This painting was executed by the artist shortly after his return in Lausanne from Paris. The rustic subject matter, poultry portrayed in a courtyard, is typical of the Naturalist approach which followed the emergence of the Realist movement in the 1840s in France. He did a few animal paintings although the recurrent thematic of his oeuvre is the depiction of scenes by the Lake Leman.

Physical description

In a courtyard opening onto a landscape with mountains in the distance, two cocks in the foreground and a hen perched on a parapet; bright sunlight.

Place of Origin

Lausanne (painted)


1855 (painted)


Bocion, François, born 1828 - died 1890 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas

Marks and inscriptions

'F Bocion 1855'
Signed and dated by the artist, lower left


Height: 60 cm estimate, Width: 47.5 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, listed in the 1868 post-mortem register of the contents of his villa in Lausanne (V&A R/F MA/1/T1181) as 'An Oil on Canvas. Poultry. By F. Bocion. In frame. Signed. Swiss. Dated 1855'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.

Historical significance: This painting is one of a group of 16 paintings bequeathed to the museum by the Rev. Townshend who had a villa in Lausanne where he spent the winter.
Although the thematic of the Lake Leman is central in his oeuvre, Bocion also executed rustic subjects such as the present one dominated by a direct observation after the motif and the care of realistic rendering. Bocion demonstrates a great accuracy of details despite a broad brushwork. This painting, executed a few years after Bocion's retrun in Lausanne, shares several similarities with the Realist movement emerged in the 1840s in France. The interest in rural society and the rendering of light, here an intense day light, are typical of Realist or Naturalist paintings.
This painting was bought by the Rev. Townshend and displayed in his villa in Lausanne (Switzerland). It completed there a large collection of 19th-century landscapes paintings and it is not unlikely that he knew personally the artist.

Historical context note

19th-century Western art is marked by a succession of movements based on a more or less close relationship with nature. At the beginning of the century, Romantic artists were fascinated by nature they interpreted as a mirror of the mind. They investigated human nature and personality, the folk culture, the national and ethnic origins, the medieval era, the exotic, the remote, the mysterious and the occult. This movement was heralded in France by such painter as Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). In its opposition to academic art and its demand for a modern style Realism continued the aims of the Romantics. They assumed that reality could be perceived without distortion or idealization, and sought after a mean to combine the perception of the individual with objectivity. This reaction in French painting against the Grand Manner is well represented by Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) who wrote a 'Manifesto of Realism', entitled Le Réalisme published in Paris in 1855. These ideas were challenged by the group of the Barbizon painters, who formed a recognizable school from the early 1830s to the 1870s and developed a free, broad and rough technique. They were mainly concerned by landscape painting and the rendering of light. The works of Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña (1807-1876), Jules Dupré (1811-1889), Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Constant Troyon (1810-1865) and Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) anticipate somehow the plein-air landscapes of the Impressionists.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Poultry', François Bocion, Swiss school, 1855

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 9, cat. no. 22.
Reymondin, Michel, Catalogue Raisonné de François Bocion, Immerc: Wormer, 1989, no. 19, p. 17.


Oil paint; Canvas


Oil painting

Subjects depicted





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