Louis Viardot  

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"The Europeans (2019) interweaves rail transport, the diffusion of cultural products, the histories of copyright, mechanical reproduction, tourism, 19th century literature, art and music with the personal lives of operatic star Pauline Viardot, her husband Louis Viardot and her lover Ivan Turgenev to sketch a remarkably lively portrait of 19th century Europe."--Sholem Stein

"The monomanies series by Géricault were discovered in Baden-Baden by Louis Viardot in 1863. In a letter to the art critic Charles Blanc dated 6 December 1863, Viardot described the five paintings."--Sholem Stein

"M. Viardot has had the advantage of visiting all the great picture galleries of Europe."--A Brief History of the Painters of All Schools (1877) by various authors

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Louis Viardot (1800 - 1883) was a French art historian, art critic, theatrical figure, and translator. He is the author of such books as Les Musées d'Europe (1852-1855) and Les Merveilles de la peinture (1868-69), translated as Wonders of Italian Art (1870) and Wonders of European Art (1871).

He plays a prominent role in The Europeans: Three Lives and the Making of a Cosmopolitan (2019) by Orlando Figes.



Viardot was born in a provincial family, his father was a liberal lawyer from Dijon. His father died early and left his wife with five children in poverty. Viardot had to make his own way. His first job was as a bar trail then he worked as a journalist.

When Viardot was 18 years old, he left Dijon to study law in Paris.

When he was in Paris in 1823, he started his job as a journalist. When he was twenty-three years old, he joined the french army and was deployed to Spain, during which the French army restored the monarchy there. He learned Spanish and acquainted himself with the country's history and culture. Subsequently he translated "Don Quixote" of Cervantes to French.

George Sand and Viardot family

Viardot worked for the newspaper Le Globe (1828) alongside Pierre Leroux, who introduced him to George Sand.

In 1836 Viardot, who was already a friend of the artist Ary Scheffer, served as the attorney of Maria Malibran and managed her affairs. Her marriage with Eugene Malibran was terminated in 1836 with his help. Maria Malibran was the oldest sister of his future spouse Pauline Garcia (1821-1910). Pauline Garcia, sister of Maria Malibran, met George Sand in 1836. Due to George Sand already knowing Louis Viardot, Louis Viardot and his friend Ary Scheffer met Pauline Garcia, the sister of Maria Malibran and future wife of Louis, in 1836.

In 1838, after the fire in the Théâtre italien in Paris (Salle Favare), Louis together with Robert, served as the director of the theater.

Viardot married Pauline Garcia on 16 April, 1840. He was twenty-one years older than his wife and loved her until his death.

He had Republican political views, did not believe in God, loved hunting and hunting dogs. He said that he had uttered the words "Long live the king!" only once, when he had received an invitation to a Royal hunt.

He abandoned the position of director of the Théâtre italien in Paris, to devote himself to the career of his wife, and would follow her on her tours.

In 1841, Louis Viardot, together with Pierre Leroux and George Sand, founded the socialist newspaper La Revue Indépendante, which was published for a short period.

Ary Scheffer and Viardot family

Scheffer and Viardot were familiar and friendly in the 1830s, before Viardot's marriage. They were friends when Viardot defended the interests of Maria Malibran, the sister of his future wife, and George Sand during the trial in 1836.

At various times Maurice Sand, Ary Scheffer, Charles Gounod, Hector Berlioz were in relationships with Pauline Viardot. In their letters they claimed that they were in love with her. She wrote in one letter:

Louis and Scheffer have always been my dearest of friends, and it is sad, that I was never able to respond to the hot and deep love of Louis, despite all my volition.

The "evil tongues" connected the birth of the daughter Claudia (Claudie) in the Viardot family with the name of Gounod and said that he was the father of Claudia, who was born on 20 of May, 1852. The oldest daughter Louise was ten years older than the new born Claudie. Whether Gounod is father of Claudie or not remains a mystery. He behaved strangely, but in keeping with his nature of promanage-polysurfaces. Ivan Turgenev called Gounod "erotic Holy father" on French language. Viardot family was not invited to the wedding of Gounod and Viardot family sent wedding present only and the problem was started. Scheffer was a confidant of Pauline Viardot in this questions.

Scheffer was a confidant of Pauline Viardot and a friend of Viardot family all his life.

In 1874, Viardot was paralyzed by a stroke and remained housebound until his death in 1883.

Linking in as of 2022

Alexei Harlamoff, Ary Scheffer, Cendrillon (Viardot), Charles-Wilfrid de Bériot, Gustave García, Jean-Baptiste Santerre, Joaquina Sitches, Le dernier sorcier, Le Globe, Louise Héritte-Viardot, Manuel García (baritone), Manuel García (tenor), Maria Malibran, Orlando Figes, Paul Viardot, Pauline Viardot, Posthumous fame of El Greco, Revue indépendante, Slaughtered Ox


  • Notices sur les principaux peintres de l'Espagne, Paris, Gavard & Paulin, 1839
  • Des origines traditionnelles de la peinture moderne en Italie, Paris, Paulin, 1840.
  • Catalogue des musées d'Italie, Paris, Paulin, 1842.
  • Catalogue des musées d'Espagne, d'Angleterre et de Belgique, Paris, Paulin, 1843.
  • Catalogue des musées d'Allemagne et de Russie, Paris, Paulin, 1844.
  • Aux électeurs de Seine-et-Marne, Paris, 20 III 1848 (prospectus politique).
  • Souvenirs de chasse, 1846 ; Paris, Paulin & Le Chevalier, 1849, 2e éd. augmentée de 5 chapitres ; 1853, 5e éd. ; 1854, 6e éd. ; 1859, 7e éd. contenant 3 nouveaux chapitres. Réédité chez Pygmalion en 1985 sous l'intitulé : Souvenirs de chasse de toute l'Europe.
  • Les Musées d'Europe. Guide et Memento de l'artiste et du voyageur, 5 volumes
    • Musées d'Italie, Paris, Hachette, 1852, rééd. 1859.
    • Musées d'Espagne, Paris, Hachette, 1852, rééd. 1855, 1860.
    • Musées d'Allemagne, Paris, Hachette, 1852, rééd. 1855, 1860, 1886.
    • Musées d'Angleterre, de Belgique, de Hollande et de Russie, Paris, Hachette, 1852, rééd. 1855, 1860.
    • Musées de France. Paris, Paris, Maison, 1855 ; Hachette, 1860, 2e éd. revue & très augmentée.
  • Espagne et Beaux-Arts, Paris, Hachette, 1866.
  • Apologie d'un incrédule, Paris, Lacroix, 1868 ; trad. angl., 1869.
  • Les Merveilles de la peinture, Paris, Hachette, coll. « La Bibliothèque des merveilles », 1868-69 (nombreuses rééditions) ; trad. esp. 1873-74 ; trad. ital. 1875.
  • Libre examen [version très augmentée de l'Apologie, supra], Paris, 1871 ; rééditions 1872, 1874, 1877, 1881, 1907.
  • Les Merveilles de la sculpture, Paris, Hachette, coll. « La Bibliothèque des merveilles », 1869 (nombreuses rééditions, la 4e en 1886) ; trad. esp. 1872.
  • La Science et la conscience, Librairie de la Bibliothèque démocratique, 1873

See also

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