Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable

Gustave Courbet French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 809

This painting, shown at the Salon of 1857, depicts the tenor Louis Gueymard in his most famous part, the title role of Meyerbeer’s opera Robert le Diable. The setting is the cavern where Robert plays dice with two servants of the devil while his father, Bertram, an evil genius, looks on. Robert sings about the dangers of lust for gold in the celebrated aria "L’or est une chimère" (Gold is but an illusion). Courbet rejected the historicizing subjects favored by many of his contemporaries. But here his embrace of the present assumed the guise of a modern theatrical piece set in the Middle Ages.

Louis Gueymard (1822–1880) as Robert le Diable, Gustave Courbet (French, Ornans 1819–1877 La Tour-de-Peilz), Oil on canvas

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