The Boot Polisher
The Boot Polisher
The Boot Polisher

The Boot Polisher

Henri Delavallée (French, 1862-1943)

Currently on View in H209
Image Licensing

  • This unusual subject presented the artist with a challenge—rendering floral wallpaper, a plaid jacket, and the fine print of a newspaper in the dotted brushwork of Neo-Impressionism.
  • The balanced composition and elegantly drawn figure reflect Delavallée’s traditional training. From 1887 through 1890 he worked in a Neo-Impressionist mode, though here his palette shows more reliance on Impressionism than Seurat’s color theories.
  • The young shoe polisher is reading Gil Blas, a popular Parisian journal that offered news and serialized novels. The portrait is the first full-figure likeness to enter the IMA’s Neo-Impressionist collection. Though his identity is not known, the unnamed boy retains a distinct individuality.

Mélanie Rouat, Riec-sur-Belon; by descent to her daughter, Marie Rouat, Riec-sur-Belon, Brittany France {1}; sale at (Thierry-Lannon, Brest) in 1998 {2}; private collection; sale at (Galerie du Post-Impressionnisme, Paris, France) in 2002; (Roberto Polo Gallery, Brussels, Belgium, through Sotheby's); purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2016.

{1} Marie Rouat was one of the six children of Mélanie Rouat, a Breton widow who founded one of the most respected seafood restaurants on the south coast of Brittany, Chez Mélanie. Through her operation of the restaurant she assembled a significant collection of works by artists from the region.

{2} Thierry & Lannon, Brest,Tableaux Modernes: Ecoles Bretonnes, Ecole Pont Aven, Groupe de Concarneau, 10 May 1998, lot no. 149.

Object Information

Henri Delavallée (French, 1862-1943)
creation date
oil on canvas
62-5/8 x 31-7/8 in. (canvas)
74-3/4 x 43-1/2 x 4-3/4 in. (framed)
mark descriptions
Signed and dated, lower right: H. Delavallée 1890
accession number
credit line
Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Wood Art Purchase Endowment Fund
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture 1800-1945

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