The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
The Philosopher
  • Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (1803 - 1860)
  • The Philosopher
  • France
  • 184[6]
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 21.7 x 27.1 cm
    Object size: 42.5 x 47.5 x 6.5 cm
  • Signature: 'DECAMPS / 184[6?]'
  • P269
  • West Gallery III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The philosopher is sitting in a poignantly old-fashioned interior surrounded by seventeenth and eighteenth-century furniture. He fails to notice the world around him. The topic of old-fashioned withdrawal was popular in the 1840s and 1850s (see Carl Sitzweg's 'Bookworm' of 1850), probably as a reaction to the explosive political situation at the time. The subject is perhaps derived from seventeenth-century Dutch precedents (cf. Dou, 'A Hermit' P170), and the strong shadows relate to Rembrandt's depictions of philosophers.
    The painting comes from the collection of the haberdasher Paul Collot who owned one of the most important collections of contemporary French art in Paris that he had to sell in 1852.