The Wallace Collection

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Charles-Nicolas Dodin (1734 - 1803)
Biography
Works of Art

Dodin studied military engineering before becoming a painter at Vincennes in April 1754. He specialised at first in cherubs, in the manner of François Boucher, on clouds or in landscapes and sometimes accompanied by trophies. His technique was unrivalled and he was employed on some of the factory’s most important productions. His earliest works were in monochrome, but he was already using polychrome colours during his first year at the factory. After 1758 he rarely painted cherubs and trophies on clouds, but he continued to paint cherubs and children in landscapes.

From 1757/8 he worked almost exclusively on coloured reserves. At first he painted Teniers scenes (1757-64), possibly himself adapting details from the large engravings kept at the factory. In 1760-3 he painted chinoiserie figure scenes, probably at first in white and later in coloured reserves. His subject matter then diversified to include pastorals after Boucher and Fragonard, hunting scenes, portraits, allegories, landscapes, mythological, military and interior scenes, genre after Greuze, and, from 1794, Revolutionary allegories and symbols. Dodin’s draughtsmanship, his meticulous technique, subtle colouring and atmospheric effects were superior to those of even his most talented colleagues. He was probably the only artist who worked, if only occasionally, from original paintings rather than engravings. He sometimes worked in gilding.

The majority of Dodin’s work was on tea wares, a wide range of flower and ornamental vase shapes, tableaux and plaques for furniture and snuffboxes. His initial wage of 24 livres had reached 100 livres by 1765 and he also received bonus payments and an accommodation allowance.

In 1762 he married Jeanne Chabry, the daughter of a Sèvres sculptor.