Vincent, François-André

Paris 1746 - Paris 1816
Biography & List of works

Zeuxis Choosing his Models for the Image of Helen from among the Girls of Croton

Zeuxis Choosing his Models for the Image of Helen from among the Girls of Croton


Medium: Oil on Canvas

Size: 102 x 137 cm

Signed: Traces of an inscription, lower left

Traces of an inscription, lower left

Although Vincent earned the praise and esteem of his contemporaries, few of his major works are known to the public today and, indeed, both paintings and drawings have been misattributed to artists as diverse as Velazquez, Largillière, Subleyras, Delacroix and Gericault.[1] Nonetheless, the transformation of his painting style from bold rococo to a refined neoclassicism, coupled with the broad range of his subject matter, demonstrates an openness of mind and technical ability unmatched by his contemporaries.

Recent studies by Jean-Pierre Cuzin have revealed an artist of extraordinary talent, able to treat arcane neoclassical subjects and explore the new fashion for stories from French history, while giving a dignity and pathos to his portrayals of ordinary life that raises them to the highest level. Thus, among his entries at the Salons of the 1790s, one could have seen not only the large Zeuxis (Paris, Louvre, fig. ), but three other contrasting masterpieces, the Pyrrhus and Glaucus (Zilokovice, Czech Republic), William Tell pushing back the Barge of Governor Guesler (Toulouse, Musée des Augustins), and his great tribute to French pastoral life, Agriculture (Bordeaux, Musée des Beaux Arts).[2]

While, like David, he also pursued a career as a successful and fashionable portraitist, he did not share the latter’s political ambitions, although it is clear that he must have been sympathetic to some aspects of the Revolution.[3] Nonetheless, David clearly perceived him as a possible rival, writing of him in 1793 that he ‘has talent, but his patriotism is without colour’.[4] Three years later David complained that Vincent’s pupils had all been given accommodation at the expense of the state, while twenty-six of his were without  rooms – ignoring the vast disparity in the size of their respective studios.[5] Vincent had played a leading role in the affairs of the Academy (to which he had been elected a full member in 1783) and, after unsuccessfully seeking the post of Director of the Rome Academy (which went to Suvée), held a number of important positions within the new artistic administration. It was certainly in recognition of his  artistic talents rather than his political skills that he was one of the first six painters to be appointed to the new Institut de France.[6]

Having been awarded the Prix de Rome in 1768 at the age of twenty-two with a Germanicus,[7] he spent the years 1771-75 in Italy, where he produced a series of witty and revealing portraits of his fellow pensionnaires as well as genre scenes, landscapes and many drawings. Although one might have expected him to have adopted his master Vien’s cold and static neoclassicism, the greater influence on Vincent at this time was Fragonard, who made his second trip to Italy while the younger painter was resident at the French Academy. Vincent shared with the latter artist a love of colour and a vigorous, animated style, and we may assume that they struck up a friendship since they journeyed to Naples together with Fragonard’s patron, Bergeret, in 1774 (when he must have painted Bergeret’s splendid portrait, Salon of 1777, now in Besancon). Several times both artists treated the same subjects, notably The Dwarf Bajaccio (Copenhagen, Statens Museum fur Kunst), who was also portrayed in conversation with a young woman in a splendid wash drawing by Fragonard now in Frankfurt. Vincent’s bold and colourful Neapolitan Woman (United States, Private Collection), may perhaps be identified with Fragonard’s A Woman from Santa Lucia, also in Frankfurt. Several other works by Vincent from this period were formerly misattributed to Fragonard, including a Self Portrait (Grasse, Musée Fragonard), a Landscape at Tivoli (Marseille, Musée Borely), and Hermine and the Shepherds (Amiens, Musée des Beaux Arts), as well as numerous drawings.[8]

In the first Salon in which he participated, that of 1777, the most important of his fifteen offerings were a large Saint Jerome, an Alicibiades Receiving the Lessons of Socrates and its pendant, Belisarius reduced to begging (all three in Montpellier, Musée Fabre), this last a subject also painted by Peyron (1779) and David  (1781). In reducing the scene to three principal figures, with three soldiers in the background, Vincent proves his mastery of this powerful and emotive subject, concentrating the attention on the tragic figure of the ill-used General, the boy who was his only support and the soldier who once served with him. In this he anticipates the even simpler composition of David although, unlike the latter, he virtually ignores the architectural setting and one can detect the influence of Greuze in the figure of the boy.[9] The picture was enthusiastically received by the critics, one commenting that the ‘young Vincent has fulfilled my expectations. He will became, quite definitely, a very great painter’[10] and while some remarked negatively on the froideur, they had not yet appreciated that here Vincent was in the vanguard of a new approach to classical subject matter. His painting may be favourably contrasted with Peyron’s over populated image, whose focus is diffused with the General placed at the extreme edge of a group of eight major figures, each given equal prominence before a broken wall.

The most innovative subjects exhibited in 1777 were the entries of two older painters, Brenet and Durameau, who were the first to follow d’Angiviller’s injunction to choose subjects from national history. There can be little doubt that their reception must have inspired Vincent’s initial attempt at such a subject, his Président Molé (Paris, Palais Bourbon), with which he obtained his first great public success.[11] The dramatic story of a leading Magistrate attacked by an enraged citizenry is presented with an immediacy that neither Brenet nor Durameau had achieved with their grand, but somewhat static compositions. Vincent had already produced two important pictures illustrating the Life of La Galaizière (Nancy, Musée des Beaux Arts) which were not exhibited, but coupled with the popular reception of his Président Molé, his reputation as an interpreter of French history must have assisted in obtaining the commission to paint a series illustrating the Life of Henri IV (Fontainebleau and Paris, Louvre), to be used as cartoons for tapestries destined as a gift to the Czarevitch, the Grand Duke Paul, who had visited France in 1782. Two more subjects were added to this series in 1787 and he produced two later versions of Henri IV with the Wounded Sully, exhibited at the 1785 and 1787 Salons.

The rapid change in painting style during the 1780s is well exemplified by a comparison of David’s portrait of Count Potocki (Warsaw, National Museum) of 1781 and Vincent’s Orythia (Chambery, Prefecture de Savoie) of the next year, which both retain a residue of rococo grandeur, with their entries at the 1789 Salon, the Brutus (Paris, Louvre, fig. ) of David and the large Zeuxis of Vincent. All traces of their earlier manner have been completely eliminated in the latter paintings and replaced with the purest neoclassical line, although Vincent eschewed the cold Republican passions of David and maintained the high colour of his earlier works. However, while Vincent embraced the neoclassical style wholeheartedly when painting subjects from Greek or Roman history, in stark contrast to David he developed at the same time a bold romanticism which he employed for subjects appropriate to such a manner, notably the William Tell (Toulouse, Musée des Augustins) of 1795.

The comparison made here between the works of Vincent and David is particularly apposite, not simply because they were born within two years of each other and enjoyed parallel pre-revolutionary careers, but also because this same comparison seems to have been made by their contemporaries. Indeed, the Comte d’Artois (future King Charles X of France), in 1787 commissioned them to paint two otherwise unconnected stories, the Loves of Paris and Helen (from David, completed in 1788, Paris, Louvre) and Rinaldo and Armida (from Vincent, exhibited at the Salon of 1787, and now lost), as pendants. While David’s popular following and public reputation were greater, not all the critics were convinced of his superiority as an artist. Although David’s mastery of his powerful subjects were unequaled by any of those other painters who dared to challenge him in this arena, the failure of Peyron’s Socrates (Copenhagen, Staten Museum fur Kunst) being a good example, Thomas Crow has pointed out that he was an expert at manipulating the Salon audience which enjoyed the theatre of a schism in the ranks of the Academy.[12] Quoting from one of the critics who commented that ‘M. Peyron arranges a scene better, puts more depth into it, and distributes his light with more intelligence and effect. M. Regnault draws better and uses colour more truthfully. M. Vincent paints with a bold vigour that leaves his fortunate competitor far behind.’, Crow observes that this was cold comfort for these three artists for whom their art was more important than a popular following and who had no desire to challenge the hegemony of the authorities of the Academy and artistic establishment.

In accepting a commission to paint a pendant for a picture from David, Vincent risked exposing himself to the former’s enmity, which had irrevocably injured the ambitions of the unfortunate Peyron. The Rinaldo and Armida[13] was finished in time for the 1787 Salon and, as David’s mysterious illness had delayed the exhibition of Paris and Helen until 1789, his only entry was the Socrates (New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art), a subject with which Vincent’s picture could not be usefully compared and which David had produced with the final humiliation of Peyron in mind.[14]

The 1789 Salon, the last to be controlled exclusively by the Academy, provided an occasion for the two artists’ entries to hang together (separated, in fact, by only one picture.[15]) These two large scale masterpieces seem to fulfill the injunction of the author of the Mémoires Sécretes to contrast paintings of ‘an opposed genre’.[16] Both David and Vincent had received their commissions from D’Angiviller, as Surintendant des Bâtiments the responsible officer for selecting those eligible for Crown patronage, in December 1785, for the 1787 Salon.[17] D’Angiviller had indicated to each artist a certain theme; Vincent and David were to paint a classical subject, ‘either mythological or actual’, the precise choice to be their own, Vincent selecting Zeuxis and David Coriolanus, which he changed to Brutus without any apparent complaint on behalf of the Bâtiments.[18] Since neither Vincent nor David’s entries were completed in time for the 1787 Salon both were delayed until 1789.

It is immediately apparent that the Brutus of David, with its implied praise of Republican virtues, and the triumph of morality over decadence, could not be contrasted more starkly than with the delicately coloured and highly refined Zeuxis choosing his models from the Girls of Croton (Paris, Louvre), that was Vincent’s only entry. While it is the contrasts between these two paintings that are immediately most obvious, certain common attributes must be remarked upon. Both paintings were on identically sized canvases and the figures are more or less in scale with each other. The two artists have each left a central void, the one filled only by a large canvas with the design sketched in, the other with a chair and table, while they have also placed pillars to the left of centre with a curtain suspended along the right two thirds of the picture, below a frieze (undecorated in the Brutus). Both pictures contain seated figures at left, gesturing towards the centre, the one of the artist Zeuxis looking across towards the young women displaying their charms, the other with the noble Republican looking solemnly away from the drama taking place around him. In the Brutus, however, the background figures supporting the bodies of the Consul’s sons, executed on his orders for attempting to restore the Monarchy, are essential to the drama, while the anonymous figures behind Zeuxis serve only to stress masculine dominance of the female. Both artists have separated the male and female figures, further emphasizing Brutus’s stoic masculinity and contrasting it with the capitulation to emotion of the weak and powerless women, while in the Zeuxis the tension is primarily erotic, underscoring masculine power and authority over the opposite sex.

The haunting sorrow of Brutus’s grief stricken wife, grouped with her fainting daughters and reaching towards the bodies of her sons, serves to emphasize the superficiality of the sorrow of the disappointed maiden in the Zeuxis. Despite their political liberalism, neither artist was concerned with challenging society’s stereotypical views of the male and female role, and both paintings may be regarded as perpetuating contemporary views of women’s sentimental nature. It is worth noting that when this subject was painted by Angelica Kauffmann earlier in the century (a composition probably unknown to Vincent), sexual tension was completely absent.[19] Her effeminate Zeuxis sits between two of the girls, placing one in a suitable pose while the others, spaced evenly across the canvas, look on; the standing models seem to dominate the seated artist.

Whether the similarities between the Brutus and Zeuxis were deliberate or accidental must be a matter for conjecture. The two artists would almost certainly have had access to each other’s studios and the preparatory drawings for the Zeuxis, of which the most important is a large, undraped figure composition dated 1788 (Montpellier, Musée Atger, fig. ), and the several drawings and oil sketches for the Brutus, illustrate the parallel development of the two compositions. A signed wash drawing for the Brutus dated 1787 (Malibu, J. Paul Getty Museum), shows that David originally placed a central figure behind the empty chair in the centre and two men at right. In Vincent’s drawings, both left and right figure groups were closer together, virtually eliminating the central void and, like the Brutus, the figures on the right were placed before a wall instead of a curtain. It is evident that the move to open the space in the centre was gradual, Vincent accomplishing this by enlarging the canvas in the stage between the undraped drawing of 1788 and the painting of 1789, while David eliminates the subsidiary figures, tightening the group of mourning women. This serves to underscore the contrast between their sorrow and the Consul’s courage, just as the sexes are more clearly separated in the painted version of the Zeuxis. Perhaps in response to David’s deepening of the composition by turning the procession of lictors so they move towards a distant back plane, Vincent has increased the depth of his composition in the final painting by the introduction of two statues to the left of the easel, that of Minerva in the centre plane, the other (whose identity is uncertain) in the back plane. Likewise both artists have placed similar still lifes in the centre of each composition, in the Brutus a basket with a white cloth tumbling over the side, in the Zeuxis a pile of clothes being gathered together by an attendant.

The account of Zeuxis choosing his models is taken from Cicero, De Inventione, II, I, I, with a shorter description in Pliny the Elder, Natural History, XXXV, 36. Having been commissioned to paint a portrait of Helen of Troy for the Temple of Jupiter at Crotona, the famous Greek artist Zeuxis had to seek the most perfect characteristics from five of the greatest beauties of the city. Vincent has exhibited his own scholarship by incorporating items which are exclusively fifth century, while the image of Helen herself is drawn in outline as on a Greek vase painting.[20] The Doric columns, the mixing bowl with its colonnettes and oil flask placed on the table beside the artist, the frieze derived from the sarcophagus of the Muses in the Albani collection in Rome, and Zeuxis’s arm which seems to have been borrowed from the Apollo Belvedere, are all talismans of classical erudition and archaeological truth.[21] It is argued by Professor Rosenblum that here Vincent revives the seventeenth century idealistic vision of achieving perfection by selecting the most pleasing aspects from the natural world, but it seems that Vincent may be suggesting that at least one of the young beauties was rejected altogether. Why else would the girl in the foreground by weeping in the arms of another if she had been chosen to model? Thus, while otherwise following the narrative, the artist has distorted the story by introducing the human reality of sorrow and disappointment, albeit superficial, into a scene which would otherwise be without deep sentiment, arguably drawing a parallel with the maternal desolation portrayed by David.

Although such a story would seem to have had an obvious attraction for an artist, providing an opportunity for a painter to demonstrate his or her notion of how best to achieve perfection, Vincent and Monsiau (fig. )[22] were the only artists to have exhibited this subject in the Salons of the eighteenth century. While Monsiau’s picture is but a feeble derivation of Vincent’s composition and Broc’s Studio of Apelles of 1800 (a subject exhibited on four earlier occasions[23] in the century and which exists in a drawing by Vincent from 1815), is technically flawed, it was the painters of genre such as Louis Léopold Boilly (in his Studio of Isabey of 1798 and Studio of Houdon of 1804) and David’s pupil L. M. Cochereau (in the Studio of David in the Louvre, of which a second version was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art), who more successfully developed Vincent’s theme.

Vincent’s large painting, one of his most ambitious efforts, was enthusiastically received by the critics, one writing that ‘it is impossible to paint with more grace a subject so gracious… everything one could want from a skilled painter is included here, the scale of the groupings, a well-distributed light, rich costumes, brilliant colour, beautiful characterisation of the faces, accurate draughtsmanship…. One can see that Vincent has taken pleasure in painting this picture’.[24] This response seems to have reflected a general consensus on the merits of Vincent’s painting and was presumably echoed by the unidentified patron who commissioned the version exhibited here. It was also considered that Vincent’s style and sensibility was particularly suited to the subject, that the painting ‘could not fail to earn him the greatest honours, adding the same to his reputation’ and ‘richness of composition, firm touch, facility of execution, accurate drawing, beauty of colours; these are the principal qualities that characterise it’.[25] One critic was so enthused that disguising himself under the alias of a prisoner recently released from the liberated Bastille, he wrote a poem in its praise.[26]

Our variant was unknown until its recent discovery, in a small sale in England where it was catalogued as ‘Early 19th century Italian School’. We may assume it is the picture referred to by the Count d’Angiviller when, on December 3rd, 1791, he wrote to Vien directing him not to deliver the Brutus or the Zeuxis to the Gobelins with the other pictures belonging to the King[27] because the artists wished to make second versions.[28] That our painting was commissioned by a connoisseur who delighted in the sexual tension of the scene is suggested by the deliberate exposure of more of the body of one of the two young women being inspected by the artist. Certain other minor changes are immediately apparent; the hand of the artist, for example, is placed at a different angle and the colour of the tunics of the male figure behind the artist and the attendant waiting on the two semi-nude models have been modified.

The most profound alteration, however, is in the number and pose of the figures on the right side of the composition. It is evident from pentimenti partially visible with the naked eye but rendered more distinct through ultra-violet and infra-red photography, that Vincent originally placed the figures of the weeping girl being comforted in a similar pose to the same group in the large version. Likewise, the two women waiting behind the principal models were first placed close behind them on the same plane. It is impossible to distinguish whether the wholly new figure on the extreme right of our version was introduced before or as part of the other alterations made directly on the canvas, but it is self-evident that the modifications were done to simplify the composition (a necessary improvement in this smaller scale work) and heighten the drama. The change in the pose of the woman comforting the disappointed model, who is moved from a full frontal position to stand in profile looking towards the artist, was surely made in response to the placement of the profiled mother in the Brutus. Standing as she is below the right hand figure of the frieze, she now echoes this pose, a connection ignored by the artist in the earlier Salon picture and which, links the left and right margins of the composition.

The extraordinary quality of Vincent’s execution, in which he maintains a uniformity of detail without distracting the viewer’s eye from the overall effect, is perhaps better suited to a work on this scale than the large Salon painting which precedes it. In both his choice of subject and the refined neoclassical style in which it is painted, Vincent has produced an emotive and graceful counterpoint to the austere nobility and virtuous republicanism of his prominent rivals, without conceding anything to the petite manière.

Provenance: Commissioned in late 1791; history unknown until its recent rediscovery. This painting is to be included in the forthcoming monographic exhibition of the works of Vincent to be held in the Museums of Fine Arts in Bordeaux and Montpellier, and in a US Museum, in 1996.

[1]Jean-Pierre Cuzin, “Vincent Reconstitué”, Connaissance des Arts, V.409, March 1986, pp.38-47.

[2]This last, a salute to the virtues of agricultural labor in the spirit of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was commissioned by Bernard Boyer-Fonfrède, who also commissioned an uncompleted Commerce known only from a drawing (Marseille, Musée de la Marine). M. Boyer-Fonfrede is portrayed standing beside his wife and daughter, while his son, Jean-Bernard, is instructed in the art of plowing by a powerfully built farmer. The association between republican virtue and agricultural labor has found its twentieth century adherents in communist Russia and China, both countries requiring their high school students to spend some days each year working on collective farms. An oil sketch for the figures of the farmer and the young boy was recently acquired by the Staatliche Kunsthalle, Karlsruhe.

[3]Vincent enjoyed a long love affair with the highly successful portraitist, Mme Adelaide Labille-Guiard, who had been unable to free herself from a husband who had abandoned her, culminating in their marriage after the introduction of civil divorce during the Revolution. This alone is not an indication of revolutionary sympathy, however. His acceptance in 1791 of a commission to paint William Tell (Salon of 1795), a rebel against established authority who became a hero of the Swiss struggle for freedom from Austria, however, may have reflected some Republican sentiments. The connection of the story of William Tell with Republican virtues was recognized by a Law of August 2nd, 1793, requiring Lemierre’s tragedy Guillaume Tell to be performed three times a week at the expense of the Republic (noted by Robert Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art, 1969, page 80. note 105). Likewise, Vincent’s poetic treatment of rural life in Agriculture demonstrates that, at least in the eyes of contemporary patrons, he was a suitable exponent of Republican virtue.

[4]Daniel and Guy Wildenstein, Documents complementaires au Catalogue de l’oeuvre de Louis David, Paris, 1973, page 77, no 743. David was seeking the suppression of the Commission of the Museum of the Arts and Vincent was one of the commissioners.

[5]Wildenstein, op.cit., page 135-136, no.1227.

[6]Wildenstein, op.cit., page 135, no 1224. The other painters, known as the “Patriarchy”, were David, Regnault, Taunay, Van Spaendonck and Vien.

[7]Which Schnapper considers ‘evinced a power of composition that David could not achieve’ at that stage in his career. Antoine Schnapper, David, New York, 1982, p.22.

[8]See Cuzin, op.cit., 1986.

[9]This connection was first made by Anita Brookner in Jacques-Louis David, London, 1980, p.65. Jean-Pierre Cuzin, in his entry on the painting in the catalogue of the exhibition de David à Delacroix, 1975-75, pp.662-663, notes also the young artist’s response to the painting of Guercino and Guido Reni.

[10]La Prétresse ou nouvelle manière de predire ce qui est arrivé, coll. Deloynes, vol X, no 189, p.970.

[11]Brenet had exhibited Saint Louis receiving the Ambassadors in 1773 and in 1777 showed The Death of Du Guesclin, while Durameau exhibited a Saint Louis washing the feet of the poor in 1773 and The Continence of Bayard in 1777. As Menageot declined, or had withdrawn the commission for the Firmness of Jubellius Taurea, the Molé which had originally been given to Beaufort was now tranfered to Vincent, while Beaufort replaced Lagrenee (now given Menageot’s former commission) in painting the Calamus. See Barthélemy Jobert, translated Richard Wigley, “The Travaux d’Encouragement: an aspect of official arts policy in France under Louis XVI”, p.7 The Oxford Art Journal, 10:1 1987, pp.3-14.

[12]Thomas E. Crow, Painters and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Paris, New Haven and London, 1985, pp.232-233.

[13]This painting has been lost and is known to us today only from the description in the Salon catalogue, which does not indicate a radical departure from conventional portrayals of the subject.

[14]That the Comte d’Artois should have chosen as pendants one painting from a classical source and the other from the work of a “modern” author (Tasso), seems not to have attracted comment. Neither did the generous patronage of this Prince deter David from taking the opportunity to make public reference to the Comte d’Artois’ dissolute and Mycenean lifestyle. While justly emphasizing d’Artois reputation as a womanizer, Crow is perhaps guilty of allowing his own prejudices to influence his judgment when he imputes to the Prince cynical enjoyment of his reputation as an uncaring rake, who cared nothing for any discredit to the royal family. T. Crow, op.cit., p.246.

[15]As is demonstrated in Charles de Wailly’s ink and wash drawing, the Salon du Museum, Paris, Musée Carnavalet.

[16]Volume XXXVI, p.320, quoted by Crow, Op.cit.. p.245.

[17]Along with Vien, Lagrenee the Elder, Regnault and Peyron. See Jobert op.cit. p.7.

[18]Jobert, op.cit, p.8.

[19]This painting is now in the collection of Brown University, Annmary Brown Memorial, Providence, Rhode Island.

[20]Rosenblum, Transformations, op.cit., pp.22-24.

[21]Jean-Pierre Cuzin, The Age of Neo-Classicism, London, 1972, p.167, no.263.

[22]The Monsiau, sold by Didier Aaron Gallery to the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, and exhibited at the Salon of 1798, no 311, shows the younger artist’s indebtedness to Vincent. While the painting is set in a grand studio, with the partially covered easel further back, he has also placed the male figures on the left of the canvas and the girls on the right, and has included a frieze and a statue of Minerva. Vincent has apparently presented the selection of models as a contest in which at least one participant has lost, but Monsiau has further altered the original story by presenting the artist awarding a prize, a laurel wreath, to the most beautiful of the girls who stands  isolated from the others. Despite its high quality and neoclassical froideur, Monsiau’s hard, porcelain like finish, even light and lack of characterisation in the faces, detracts from the erotic tensions which so envigorate Vincent’s masterpiece.

[23]Jean Restout, Alexander in the Studio of Apelles, Salon of 1739; Lambert-Sigismond Adam, Apelles painting Campaspe (sculpture), Salon of 1745; Etienne-Maurice Falconet, same subject (sculpture), Salon of 1765; and Louis Lagrenée the Elder, same subject, Salon of 1773.

[24]Verités agréables ou le Salon vu en beau par l’auteur du Coup de patte, Paris, Knappen fils, 1789.

[25]Observations critiques sur les Tableaux du Sallon de l’année 1789, Paris, Chez les Marchands de Nouveaute, p.16-18, coll. Deloynes, vol XVI, # 410, pp 80-82, ‘Il ne falloit donc rien moins que le talent de M. Vincent pour venir à bout d’un suject de cette nature. Aussi, ce tableau ne peut manques de lui faire le plus grand honneur, d’ajouter même à sa reputation. Richesse de composition, touche fermé, execution facile, correction de dessin, beauté de colouris; voila les qualite principales qui le caracterisent.

[26]‘AIR: De la Romance de Renand d’Aft/ Que ce Tableau flatte mes yeux! / Les beaux corps! L’heureuse harmonie! / C’est un chef d’oeuvre du genie, / Ah! qui n’en serait envieux! A la metimpsicose, en France, / Qui ne croirait, en le voyant? / Zeuxis, sous le nom de Vincent, / De son art montre l’excellence‘. From Pensées d’un prisonnier de la Bastille sur les Tableaux exposées au Sallon du Louvre en 1789, p.8-9, coll. Deloynes, vol XVI, # 411, pp. 104-105.

[27]’L’exposition des ouvrages de Peinture et Sculpture qui a eu lieu cette année étant terminé il convient d’en retirer les tableaux appartenant au Roi de de les faire transporter aux Gobelins ou ils doivent être deposés. J’en ai excepté cependant celui de Monsieur David representant Brutus and celui de Monsieur Vincent les deux artistes me les ayant demandés pour en faire des copies ca qui m’aparu ne pouvoir leur être refusé. Je vous laisse le soin d’en donner avis à Monsieur Belle afin qu’il s’entendu avec vous pour effectuer le trasport‘. Correspondance de la Maison du Roi O^ 1920 1791 Bibliotheque Nationale (our thanks to Mlle Fabienne Fiacre for finding this reference). Although the title of Vincent’s picture is not mentioned the Zeuxis was the only one of his various exhibits of that year which belonged to the King. David’s second Brutus is possibly the painting now at Hartford a mainly studio work on a smaller canvas bearing a false date; there is also a possibility that there exists a second autograph version a pendant to our Zeuxis but presently lost. David however did not include mention of a second version on either of the manuscript lists he made of his works whereas he did refer to repetitions of the Belisarius and Paris and Helen so the second Brutus may have never been completed.

[28]Vincent it appears painted copies of his own commissioned works before presenting them to his patrons.  The artist made second versions of both Mole et les Factiennes 1779 documented in Quatremere de Quincy Recueil de notices historiques lues dans les séances publiques de l’Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts à l’Institut Paris 1834 and Arias et Pætus 1806 as described by Jean-Baptiste Chaussard in Le Pausanias français Paris 1806.