Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

The Good Samaritan

Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps (French, Paris 1803–1860 Fontainebleau)
by 1853
Oil on canvas
36 5/8 x 29 1/8 in. (93 x 74 cm)
Credit Line:
H. O. Havemeyer Collection, Gift of Horace Havemeyer, 1929
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 804
This picture illustrates the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, who comes to the aid of a wounded man. Having dressed the man’s wounds, the Samaritan is shown carrying him to an inn, where he would pay for the man’s care. The present version was admired by Delacroix in 1853, as Decamps was preparing to close up his Paris studio and retire to Fontainebleau. Its thickly impasted surface is characteristic of Decamps’s late manner, in which subjects of profound moral import are treated with formal austerity.
the artist, Paris, later Fontainebleau (until d. 1860; his estate sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 29–30, 1861, no.1, for Fr 23,600, to Meyer); Leopold Meyer, Vienna (1861–67; his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, April 27–28, 1866, no. 13, bought in[?] for Fr 14,100; sold on December 31, 1867, for Fr 14,000 or 14,500, [by exchange] to Goupil); [Goupil & Cie, Paris, 1867–69; stock no. 3244; sold on October 8, 1869, for Fr 15,000, to Redron]; M. Redron (from 1869); Gustave Viot, Paris (by 1883–86; his sale, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, May 25, 1886, no. 1, for Fr 21,000, to Levesque); Levesque, Paris (from 1886); [Galerie Brame, Paris, until 1889; sold on July 25, 1889, for Fr 35,000, to Durand-Ruel]; [Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1889; stock no. 2370; sold on August 21, 1889, for Fr 55,000, to Havemeyer]; Mr. and Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer, New York (1889–his d. 1907); Mrs. H. O. (Louisine W.) Havemeyer, New York (1907–d. 1929; cat., 1931, pp. 104–5, ill.); her son, Horace Havemeyer, New York (1929)
Paris. Galerie Georges Petit. "Cent chefs-d'œuvre des collections parisiennes," June 12–?, 1883, no. 23 (lent by M. Gustave Viot).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The H. O. Havemeyer Collection," March 10–November 2, 1930, no. 44 [2nd ed., 1958, no. 100].

Providence. Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design. "French Painting in Africa," April 4–28, 1935, no. 5.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection," March 27–June 20, 1993, no. A185.

Paris. Musée d'Orsay. "La collection Havemeyer: Quand l'Amérique découvrait l'impressionnisme...," October 20, 1997–January 18, 1998, no. 44.

Eugène Delacroix. Journal entry. April 29, 1853 [published in Joubin 1932, vol. 2, pp. 31–32; Hannoosh 2009, vol. 1, p. 644], describes seeing this painting in Decamps's Paris studio.

Marius Chaumelin. Decamps: Sa vie, son œuvre. Marseilles, 1861, pp. 19, 43, states that it sold at the artist's estate sale for Fr 32,600 to M. Mayer [see Refs. Gazette des beaux-arts 1861, Moreau 1869].

"Vente de l'atelier de Decamps." Gazette des beaux-arts 10 (May 15, 1861), p. 251, states that this painting was the most finished of the works in Decamps's estate sale, and that it sold for Fr 23,600.

Ad[olphe]. Moreau. Decamps et son œuvre. Paris, 1869, pp. 190, 289, notes that Meyer bought it for Fr 23,600.

Albert Wolff. Cent chefs-d'œuvre des collections parisiennes. Exh. cat., Galerie Georges Petit. Paris, [1883], pp. 76, 96, no. 26, ill. opp. p. 74 (etching by Ch. Courtry).

Charles Clément. Decamps. Paris, [1886], p. 90.

H. O. Havemeyer Collection: Catalogue of Paintings, Prints, Sculpture and Objects of Art. n.p., 1931, pp. 104–5, ill.

André Joubin. Journal de Eugène Delacroix. Paris, 1932, vol. 2, pp. 31–32, publishes Delacroix's 1853 journal entry.

Charles Sterling and Margaretta M. Salinger. French Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2, XIX Century. New York, 1966, pp. 33–34, ill., suggest that Decamps chose this subject in order to paint realistic oriental decor; note that it is probably a repetition of an earlier work; mention two other pictures (Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Cleveland Museum of Art) and a sketch (present location unknown) of the same theme; consider it an excellent example of Rembrandt's influence on Decamps.

John Ittmann et al. in The Forest of Fontainbleau [sic], Refuge of Reality: French Landscape 1800 to 1870. Exh. cat., Shepherd Gallery. New York, 1972, unpaginated, under no. 65, reproduces a chalk sketch, "Near-Eastern Scene with a Monkey" (about 1828–30; formerly collection Kurt P. Ross, New York) which may have provided the background of our painting.

Dewey F. Mosby. Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, 1803–1860. PhD diss., Harvard University. New York, 1977, vol. 1, pp. 203, 231; vol. 2, pp. 381, 492–93, 500, no. 202, pl. 101B, dates it about 1853 and calls it a replica of the painting of the same title in the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Va. (about 1845); suggests that it was inspired by a copy after Rembrandt's painting of the subject (Musée du Louvre, Paris) in Decamps's own collection; mentions an engraving after this picture by Ramus.

Donald V. S. Harley. French and Other European Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture of the Nineteenth Century. Exh. cat., Shepherd Gallery, Associates, Inc. New York, 1980, unpaginated, under no. 48.

Frances Weitzenhoffer. "The Creation of the Havemeyer Collection, 1875–1900." PhD diss., City University of New York, 1982, p. 113, fig. 23.

Donald A. Rosenthal. Orientalism: The Near East in French Painting 1800–1880. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Rochester, N.Y., 1982, p. 38, cites it as an example of works that combined Decamps's "desire to be a history painter with the reality of his talent as a specialist in genre scenes".

Frances Weitzenhoffer. The Havemeyers: Impressionism Comes to America. New York, 1986, pp. 61, 158.

Susan Alyson Stein in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 210, 286.

Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen. Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, pp. 187, 189, colorpl. 173 (painting and frame), dates it about 1853; dates the frame 1892–93 and suggests that it may have been designed by Tiffany for the Havemeyers.

Gretchen Wold in Splendid Legacy: The Havemeyer Collection. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1993, p. 323, no. A185, ill.

Louise d'Argencourt in The Cleveland Museum of Art Catalogue of Paintings: Part Four. Vol. 1, European Paintings of the 19th Century. Cleveland, 1999, pp. 203–4, states that it is difficult to determine the sequence of the four Decamps paintings on this theme; dates the Cleveland version about 1842.

Michèle Hannoosh, ed. Eugène Delacroix: Journal. Paris, 2009, vol. 1, p. 644, publishes Delacroix's 1853 journal entry.

This painting is thought to relate to one of the same name at the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Va., which has been dated about 1845. There is a chalk drawing that may have been a study for the architectural setting (formerly private collection, New York); there is also an etching after the composition [see Refs. Wolff 1883, Mosby 1977].

Earlier in his career, Decamps painted two canvases depicting the same subject set in a landscape (about 1837, Minneapolis Institute of Arts; about 1842, Cleveland Museum of Art).
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