The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Pierre-Jules-Théophile Gautier, 1811-1872

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1811
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1872
Place of Death:


Pierre-Jules-Théophile Gautier, a French poetic and critic on art, literature and theatre, was the son of a tax official.


Gautier championed the art of Ingres and Delacroix, whilst disdaining the school of David. Writing for La Presse, he reviewed almost every Salon of Louis-Philippe's reign. He produced an extensive review of the 1855 Exposition Universelle, published as Les Beaux-arts en Europe (1855-6). In 1856 he became editor of L'Artiste. By the time of the Second Empire his artistic pronouncements had come to be regarded as authoritative and he played a significant role in the official acceptance of Courbet. However, he showed little understanding of the work of Manet and the Impressionists.

The preface of Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835) was important for the development of the notion of 'l'art pour l'art'. His poetic approach to art criticism was influential for the Goncourt brothers and Baudelaire. Gautier, Henri Murger and Baudelaire all wrote about correspondances between art and music, a notion that Whistler was to develop in his artistic theory and practice. Gautier's enthusiasm for the art of eighteenth century France may have also influenced Whistler's interest in this period.


Richardson, J., Théophile Gautier: His Life and Times, London, 1958; Spencer, M., The Art Criticism of Théophile Gautier, Geneva, 1969; Snell, R., Théophile Gautier: A Romantic Critic of the Visual Arts, Oxford, 1982; Snell, Robert, '(Pierre-Jules-)Théophile Gautier', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 8 March 2002).