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Oil painting - The Spring
  • The Spring
    Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893
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The Spring

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Switzerland (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    pre 1868 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on paper laid on cardboard

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Barthélemy Menn (1815-1893) was born in Geneva where he was taught by W. A. Töpffer and subsequently by Léonard Lugardon (1801-1884), a former pupil of Ingres and Jean-Antoine Gros. Menn later studied with Ingres and followed him in Rome. He mostly produced portraits and landscapes close to the school of Barbizon although he made his debut with historical subjects. Menn taught two generations of painters including Maurice Dudevant, Georges Sand's son, and Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918).

This painting is a fine example of Menn's transitional manner when he took his distance with history painting under the influence of Ingres and was attracted by a freer approach of nature developed by Corot and the school of Barbizon. The composition combines a landscape with a pleasant genre scene and is executed in a broader manner, which places the execution of the painting at the end of the 1850s. It shows a mountainous landscape, vaguely reminiscent of the Alps, with two figures, one of them, a man bending over a stream, recalling the classical figure of Narcissus. The interest in rural subject and the rendering of light in plein-air are typical of the Realist movement admired by Menn, which emerged in France in the 1840s.

Physical description

Mountainous landscape with a woman approaching a stream from which a man is drinking.

Place of Origin

Switzerland (possibly, painted)


pre 1868 (painted)


Menn, Barthélemy, born 1815 - died 1893 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on paper laid on cardboard

Marks and inscriptions

'B Menn'
Signed by the artist, lower left


Height: 20.3 cm estimate painting, Width: 29.2 cm estimate painting, Height: 345 mm frame, Width: 430 mm frame, Depth: 65 mm frame

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 'Oil on millboard. The Spring. By B. Menn. In frame. Signed. Swiss. Present century'; bequeathed by Rev. Chauncey Hare Townshend, 1868.

Historical significance: The present painting is one of a group of 6 works by Menn, originally owned by the Rev. Townshend who gathered a rich collection of 19th-century landscape paintings. It is possible that Townshend acquired directly the painting from the artist as he had the habit of spending the winter in Lausanne, not far from Geneva where resided the artist.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'The Spring', Barthélémy Menn, Swiss school, ca. 1855

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

Kauffmann, C.M. Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, II. 1800-1900 , London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 70-72, cat. no. 157.


Oil paint; Paper; Cardboard


Oil painting

Subjects depicted

Man; Mountains; Woman; Spring; Genre scene; Landscape




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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