LAURENS, Jules Joseph Augustin, French artist in drawing, painting, and lithography who depicted Oriental and other subjects (b. 26 July 1825 at Carpentras; d. 5 May 1901 at Saint-Didier, Vaucluse). He trained as a pupil of his elder brother, Jean Joseph Bonaventure (1801-90), and then studied at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he held his first exhibition in 1840. Chosen almost by chance to accompany X. Hommaire de Hell in his mission to Turkey and Persia (1846-48), Jules Laurens made over a thousand sketches and drawings of sites and costumes; and he drew many portraits on demand for Persian and European personalities in Persia. In his “Nazar-Andaz” (see bibliography), he related his companion’s last days and death at Isfahan (20 August 1848), which was then in a state of political turmoil. He was able to proceed to Tehran, with many difficulties, only with the help of the French ambassador, Comte de Sartiges. From there he sent back to France Hommaire de Hell’s instruments and notes, together with his own drawings. Hundred of the drawings were presented in the Atlas, the fourth volume of the Voyage en Turquie et en Perse..., published by Mme Hommaire de Hell from her husband’s journaland notes. Some lithographs which he made from his drawings were published in the popular periodicals L’Illustration and Tour du Monde (see the latter, 1860, Deuxième Semestre, pp. 17-48, for illustrations to “Voyage en Perse, fragments” by J. Gobineau, an excerpt from his Trois ans en Asie).The original watercolors and drawings made in Turkey and Persia were, in part, given to the library of the École des Beaux Arts in Paris.
After his return to France in 1849, Laurens pursued his artistic career in Paris and exhibited paintings and engravings—some with Persian subjects—in almost every exhibition held annually in the Salon de Paris between 1850 and 1891. His vast production not only was seen in Paris (e.g., Les rochers de Vann in theMusée d’Orsay), but also reached many regional museums in France, for example, Campagne de Téhéran (Avignon), L’hiver en Perse (Bagnères), Ruines de palais persan (Carpentras), La mosquée bleue à Tauris (Montpellier), and Village fortifié dans le Khorassan (Toulon). Being a witty and distinguished man, Laurens was very active in Paris literary and artistic salons, where he met many celebrities. At the end of his life, he published La légende des ateliers, in which he recounted some anecdotes from his travels.
Archives. Archives Nationales, Paris, dossier Hommaire de Hell, F/I7/2976/1.
Works. Atlas historique et scientifique, Paris, 1859; = Tome IV of Voyage en Turquie et en Perse exécuté par ordre du gouvernement français pendant les années 1846, 1847 et 1848 par Xavier Hommaire de Hell, Paris, 1856-59.
J. Laurens, “ ‘Nazar-endaz’, Episode d’un voyage en Perse,” Revue orientale et algérienne, 1853-54, pp. 342-51; repr. in J. Laurens, La légende des ateliers, Paris, 1901.
Studies. L.-H. Labande, Jules Laurens, Paris, 1910.
“Laurens (Jules-Joseph-Augustin)” in E. Bénézit, ed., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs Bénézit, Paris, 1976, VI, pp. 481-82.
A. D. Bitard, “Laurens, Jules Joseph Augustin,” in Dictionnaire et biographie contemporaine française et étrangère, Paris, 1880, p. 780.
A. Maureau, “Laurens. Jules-Joseph-Augustin,” in Roman d’Amat et al., ed., Dictionnaire de biographie française XIX, Paris, 2001, pp. 1384-85.
G. Vapereau, “Laurens (Joseph-Augustin-Jules),” in Dictionnaire des contemporains, Paris, 1858, p. 933.
1 December 2003
Originally Published: July 20, 2003
Last Updated: July 20, 2003