Jules Alex Patouillard Degrave (1844-1932)
Oil on Canvas
13 x 12 in (33 x 31cm)
Jules Degrave was born in Saint-Quentin, France in 1844.
From an early age he showed a remarkable talent for drawing and painting. His father who had a great believe in his talented son encouraged him, he was sent to enrol at the prestigious academy of Jean Leon Gerome, where under his tutorship he was encouraged to paint genre and figurative subjects. He was accepted in 1866 by the society of French Artist as a full member and invited to exhibit with the most prestigious artists of France notably his mentor Jean Leon Gerome.
Goupils, one of the most established fine art dealers in Paris became the sole agent and sold numerous paintings over a fifty year period as such was the demand for his subject choice, invariably children at play and having fun.
In 1883 he received a honourable mentioned for his painting exhibited at the Society of French Artist. His preference in using wooden panel for his paintings followed the Dutch tradition in preparation and priming technique.
The subject matter for the Birthday Surprise may well have been his daughters as he had a large family; it depicts the younger child opening her present, the red ribbon discarded on the floor. The smile and naturalness of the children captivated Jules Degrave and his choice of subject matter found numerous patrons and collectors.
The Birthday Surprise is an excellent example of the celebrated artist’s works, he combines the look of innocence in the most naturalistic manner, and the frame for this painting is the original and would have been selected by Degrave himself. The children’s French style dresses is typical of the period 1870-1900 and we would suggest the painting was painted around 1890s. the inscription on the wall says ..The beautiful children wear silk dresses.
He normally painted smaller pictures, which was probably a commercial decision. Degrave continued to paint till his 80s and he died in Paris in 1932.
He is fully recorded in Benezit volume 4 pag. 356