RUCHONNET, Louis


Description:
Three-quarter length seated with a portfolio by his chair. Oil on canvas, signed and dated upper right ‘A. Muller Uri 1888’.

Location:
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Place du Riponne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Provenance:
Given to the Museum in September 1894 by the son of the sitter Mr. Ernest Ruchonnet.

Exhibition:
Schweizerisches Kunstausstellung, Lucerne, 13th May-13th June, 1888, Catalogue, p. 10, “A. Müller aus Uri, No. 249: Porträt des Hrn. Bundesrath Ruchonnet”.
Schweizerisches Kunstausstellung, Aarau, 10th June-1st July, 1888, Catalogue, p. 10, “A. Müller aus Uri, No. 194: Porträt des Hrn. Bundesrath Ruchonnet”.
Exposition de la Société Suisse des Beaux-Arts, La Grenette à Lausanne, 8th-29th July, 1888, Catalogue, p. 12, “A. Müller, d’ Uri: No. 194: Portrait de M. Ruchonnet, conseiller federal.”
Schweizerisches Kunstausstellung, Solothurn, 5th August- ?, 1888, Catalogue, p. 12, “A. Müller aus Uri, No. 194: Porträt des Hrn. Bundesrath Ruchonnet”.

EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE, Paris, 1889.

Bibliography:
La Revue, Lausanne, Switzerland, April 14, 1888
Journal de Geneve, Switzerland, April 15, 1888
Der Bund, Bern, Switzerland, April 21, 1888
La Revue, Lausanne, Switzerland, April 24, 1888
Journal de Geneve, Switzerland, April 25, 1888
Intelligenz Blatt, Bern, Switzerland, April 27, 1888
Luzerner Tagblatt, Switzerland, May 24, 1888
Courier de Geneve, Switzerland, n.d. (end of May or start of June 1888)
Liberta, Ticino, Switzerland, June 6, 1888
The Anglo-American, Lucerne, Switzerland, June 9, 1888
Aargauen Nachrichten, Switzerland, June 23, 1888
Gazette de Lausanne, Switzerland, No. 170, July 19, 1888
Basel Nachrichten, Switzerland, September 24, 1888
Journal de Geneve, Switzerland, February 16, 1889
Journal de Geneve, Switzerland, February 27, 1889
Berner Zeitung, Switzerland, March 2, 1889
Der Bund, Bern, Switzerland, Monday/Tuesday, February 8/9, 1892.
La Revue, Lausanne, Switzerland, Tuesday, February 9, 1892.
Neue Zurcher Zeitung, Switzerland, Wednesday, February 10, 1892.
Die Ostschweiz, St. Gallen, Switzerland, February 11, 1892.
La Revue, Lausanne, Switzerland, Thursday, September 20, 1894.
The American University Magazine, May 1895, Vol. II, No. 1

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Notes

Antoine Louis Jean Ruchonnet was born on April 28, 1834. He was elected to the Swiss Federal Council on March 3, 1881 and died in office on September 14, 1893. He was affiliated to the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland. During his time in office he held the following departments: Department of Trade and Agriculture (1881), Department of Justice and Police (1882), Political Department (1883), Department of Justice and Police (1884 – 1893). He was President of the Confederation twice in 1883 and 1890.

Painted in Bern in early 1888. The Anglo-American’s review of June 9, 1888, is worth quoting in full:

‘…The Exhibition of pictures by Swiss artists which is now being taken through the country has been installed for some time in the Town Hall, Lucerne. It has now been taken elsewhere. We are unable, owing to the lack of courtesy which is usually shown to representatives of the press, to give a detailed account of the pictures. The claims of true art however are stronger than the feelings of resentment and we gladly draw attention to a picture which will in the future occupy much worthier places even than the honourable position now given to it by the management of this travelling collection. We refer to No. 249 in the catalogue a lifesize portrait of Dr. Louis Ruchonnet, Federal Councillor, Chief of the Department of Justice and Police, and formerly President of the Swiss Confederation.

It is painted by Mr. Adolphe Muller-Uri, a young Swiss artist of New York, and a brother of Mr. Edward Müller, secretary of the general post office at Bern.

Although still young the artist has attained a considerable reputation principally for his portrait of Cardinal Gibbons in Baltimore. The American papers have spoken highly of Mr. Muller-Uri’s work and we can only re-iterate their favourable criticism with regard to the portrait of Dr. Ruchonnet. It is an excellent portrait and a work of art of high merit. It has been painted for the exhibition in Paris next year. The young artist has also sent two pictures to the International Fine Arts exhibition in Munich and altogether Switzerland has reason to hope for many good things in the future from him.’

So too is part of the review in the Journal de Geneve, February 27, 1889:

‘…Il y a beaucoup de probite artistique et de savoir dans le Portrait de M. Louis Ruchonnet, par M. Muller-Uri (d’Uri). Mais que de noir! que de noir! que de noir! Redingote noir, gilet noir, pantalon noir, cravate noir, portefeuille de cuir noir, je neglige la chaussure. Oh! l’inevitable, l’officiel drap noir, quel tourment pour les portraitistes!..’

On July 2, 1890 Ruchonnet wrote the following letter to the artist (artist’s papers):

‘Cher Monsieur

Je vous ai envoyé ce matin 1000f somme convenue pour mon portrait.

J’ai regretté beaucoup que votre dernier sejour à Berne ait été si court qui j’ai a peine en le temps de vous voir. Tâchez que votre prochaine visite soit un peu plus longue.

Bien des salutations à madame votre mere et mes voeux pour que votre visite au pays natal vous soir agréable.

                                    à vous, cher monsieur

                                               L. Ruchonnet’


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