The obelisk depicted here belonged to a pair that was split up when its mate was sent from Egypt to Paris in 1831. In October 1836, when this sketch was painted at Luxor, the "missing" obelisk was being raised at the center of the Place de la Concorde, where it remains today. Between 1827 and 1870, La Bouëre regularly exhibited landscapes at the Paris Salons that reflect his far-flung travels.
La Bouëre held a military commission from 1815 until 1830. After studying drawing with Christian Brune, a professor of topography and landscape at the École Polytechnique, Paris, in the 1820s, he made his debut at the Salon of 1827. He then spent three years in the studio of the history painter François-Édouard Picot. La Bouëre’s life is not well-documented. (An ephemeral but useful pamphlet, 100 Dessins de Voyages de 1830 à 1870 par Antoine Xavier Gabriel de Gazeau, comte de La Bouëre, was issued by Galerie Mazarini, Lyons, on the occasion of an exhibition that opened on March 12, 1991; see also Véronique Moreau, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, Peintures du XIXe siècle, 1800–1914: Catalogue raisonné, Tours, 1999, vol. 2, pp. 396–97.) That he traveled widely, however, is clear from the catalogues of the Salons, where he exhibited landscape paintings based on his voyages until 1870, and from a handful of oil sketches.
From 1835 until 1838 La Bouëre sojourned in Egypt. An unidentified traveling companion added a note to the back of the canvas on which the present sketch is mounted, which states "Croquis d'après nature de la porte du temple / de Luqsor que décorait l'obélisque de la / place de la Concorde. Par Labouere, / lors de notre voyage d'Egypte en octobre / 1836" (Sketch from nature of the gate of the temple of Luxor, which was embellished by the obelisk of the place de la Concorde. By Labouere [sic], from our voyage to Egypt in October 1836). Indeed, the obelisk depicted here is one from a pair that was split up when the other one was sent to Paris in 1831. In October 1836, when this sketch was painted, the "missing" obelisk was being raised at the center of the Place de la Concorde, where it remains today (see Robert Solé, Le grand voyage de l’obélisque, Paris, 2004).
Two other Egyptian views by La Bouëre have been identified: Ruines du Palais de Karnac à Thébes, which was acquired by the French state from the Salon of 1841 (Ministère de la Défense, Paris; see L’Artiste, 3rd ser., 4, engraving by Doney), and Le Désert de Suez, shown at the Salon of 1844 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers).
[Asher Ethan Miller 2013]
[Jacques Fischer-Chantal Kiener, Paris, in 1977]; [Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London, until 1978; sold on June 8 to Whitney]; Wheelock Whitney III, New York (from 1978)
London. Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox. "From Revolution to Second Republic," May 18–June 9, 1978, no. 32 [see Ref. Whitney 2003].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850," January 22–April 21, 2013, unnumbered cat. (fig. 62).
From Revolution to Second Republic. Exh. cat., Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox. 1978, no. 32, ill.
Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), p. 46, fig. 62 (color).
Old Master and 19th-Century Drawings and Oil Sketches. Exh. cat., W. M. Brady & Co. New York, 2014, unpaginated, under no. 28, misidentifies the picture as still in the collection of Wheelock Whitney.