Inspired by Gustave Courbet and a friend of Édouard Manet, Charles Durand, known as Carolus (1827-1917) was one of the young artists who followed the latter in the year of the Salon des Réfusés, in 1863 and claimed realism. Preserved at the Lille Fine Arts Museum, "the kiss" bears witness to the painter's mastery of combining audacity and modesty.
This scene, of great sensuality, represents Carolus Durand himself, embracing his young and beautiful wife Pauline Croizette. The assumed contrast between the black background and the raw light radiating from the two lovers highlights the amorous passion, underlined by the red of the stole.
The resemblance of the male figure to the self-portrait that the artist made seven years earlier "the sleeping man" is obvious.
Carolus Durand will paint his wife again a year later, after returning from a trip to Spain. He will have three children with Pauline Croizette, herself a pastel artist and miniaturist. One of their daughters will marry the playwright Georges Feydeau.
Covered with honours, member of the Institute in 1904, director of the Academy of Rome the following year, Carolus Durand is one of the rare friends whom Édouard Manet is close to. His notoriety, his receptions, his magnificent studio particularly appealed to women of high society. As Octave Mirbeau wrote in 1892: "Carolus does not paint women, he upholsters them, he does not dress them, he tends them".
When Carolus Durand moved away from the conventional painting of portraits where he excelled, he knew how to show great technical freedom where the influence of Impressionism pierced.
In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...