Description & Technical information

Alfred Dehodencq married Maria Amelia Calderon in Cadiz in 1857, and they had five children, three of whom died young. The artist, who delighted in depicting children in his genre paintings, produced a number of charming paintings and drawings of his own children. As his close friend and biographer Gabriel Séailles recalled, ‘He loved his children passionately, with a jealous, almost tyrannical affection; he couldn't let them out of his sight; he always wanted them close to him; he drew and painted them incessantly; there wasn't a child whose portrait he didn't paint more than ten times.’ Among other studies of his children by Dehodencq are a depiction of his son Edmond in the act of drawing, a study of three of the Dehodencq children also engaged in drawing, and a pastel portrait of his daughter Marie - all of which were in the collection of the painter’s son Alfred in 1910 – as well as a sketch of The Family of the Artist which once belonged to Gabriel Séailles. A watercolour portrait sketch of Edmond Dehodencq was with Stephen Ongpin Fine Art in 2019 and is now in a private American collection, while a small pastel portrait of Edmond reading appeared at auction in 2019. The culmination of Dehodencq’s depictions of his family is found in the finished painting Interior (The Children of the Artist) of 1872.

The elder of the two boys depicted here is probably Edmond Dehodencq (1860-1887), who was also a painter and trained with his father, but died young, at the age of twenty-seven. Edmond made his debut at the Salon in 1873 with a still life of oranges and pomegranates, and apart from still life subjects also painted genre scenes and pastoral views. The younger boy shown here at the right is likely to be the artist’s second son, Alfred Dehodencq fils.

Provenance: Seiferheld and Co., New York
Christian Humann, New York and Paris
His posthumous sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 12 June 1982, lot 162
Patrick Roger-Binet, Paris
Robert Flynn Johnson, San Francisco.
Literature: Robert Flynn Johnson, Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud, exhibition catalogue, Oakland, 2018, p.75, no.71.
Exhibitions: Cambridge, MA, Fogg Art Museum, in 1934 (on loan); Coral Gables, Lowe Art Museum, and elsewhere, Contemplating Character: Portrait Drawings and Oil Sketches from Jacques-Louis David to Lucian Freud, 2015-2023, no.71.