Words of Wisdom
Dutch, 1795 - 1858
Oil on canvas, signed
41.5 x 35.25 in.
Scheffer was the son of Johan Bernard Scheffer (1765–1809), a portrait painter born in Homberg upon Ohm or Kassel who had moved to the Netherlands in his youth, and Cornelia Lamme (1769–1839), a portrait miniature painter and daughter of the Dordrecht landscape painter Arie Lamme, after whom Arij (later Ary) was named. He had two brothers, the journalist and writer Karel Arnold Scheffer (1796–1853) and the painter Hendrik Scheffer (1798–1862). He was taught by his parents and attended the Amsterdam drawing academy from the age of 11. In 1808 his father became court painter of Louis Bonaparte in Amsterdam, but he died a year later. Encouraged by Willem Bilderdijk, he moved to Lille for further study after the death of his father. In 1811 he and his mother, who had a large influence on his career, moved to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. Scheffer started exhibiting at the Salon de Paris from 1812 on. He started to become recognized in 1817 and in 1819 he was asked to make a portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette. Perhaps because of Lafayette's contacts, Scheffer and his brothers were politically active throughout their lives and he became a prominent Philhellene. Scheffer often painted subjects from literature, especially the works of Dante, Byron and Goethe.
After 1846, he ceased to exhibit. His strong ties with the royal family caused him to fall out of favour when, in 1848, the Second Republic came into being. Shut up in his studio, he produced many paintings that were only exhibited after his death in 1858.
Ary Sheffers works are housed in major collections throughout the world including the Minneapolis Museum of Art.