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Léon Riesener (1808–1878)

Léon Riesener, Mme Louis-Auguste Bornot with her Son Camille
Léon Riesener, Mme Louis-Auguste Bornot with her Son Camille

© RMN / J-G. Berizzi

Léon Riesener was Delacroix’s first cousin and grandson of Jean-Henri Riesener (1734-1806), a famous cabinet-maker under Louis XVI.

He was the son of Henri-François Riesener (1767-1828), a painter who achieved some success under the Empire, then enjoyed a brilliant career in Czar Alexander’s court. Delacroix was particularly fond of his aunt, with whom he liked to discuss literature. In 1824, they translated Lord Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage together. After she was widowed, she retired to Frépillon in the Montmorency valley, where Delacroix often visited her.

Léon Riesener started working in Gros’s studio at age fifteen. In the 1930s, he started to exhibit his works regularly, and in the 1940s received major commissions for large paintings (the Charenton hospice chapel, ceilings of the Senate library, the Saint-Eustache Church, and the Paris Hôtel de Ville). Léon Riesener explored every genre, but he nevertheless pursued the great colorist tradition and was strongly influenced by his famous cousin, who had always supported and recommended him to others.

Delacroix loaned him a large sum of money and bequeathed the Champrosay home and all its contents to Riesener.

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