Open main menu

Wikipedia β

Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin

Self-portrait by Saint-Memin

Charles Balthazar Julien Févret de Saint-Mémin (1770–1852) was a portraitist and museum director. He fled France during the revolution, and worked as a portrait engraver in the United States in the early 19th century. He created portraits from life of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and others. He later served as museum director in Dijon.


Brief historyEdit

Born in France in 1770, to parents Benigne Charles Fevret and Victoire Marie de Motmans, Saint-Memin was educated at Ecole Militaire, Paris, France, graduating in 1785. In 1788, he served in the French Guard.[1]

During the French Revolution, Saint-Memin and his family travelled to Switzerland, and then in 1793 to New York City. They intended to travel to Santo Domingo ”to prevent the sequestration of the lands of his creole mother [However] in New York news of the sad fate of that colony made them decide to remain where they were. Faced with earning a living, they first tried raising vegetables, but ... this experiment proved inadequate.”[2] Out of necessity, Saint-Memin taught himself to work portraits.

Saint-Memin lived in the United States from 1793 through 1814. During that time he created numerous portraits, often using the physiognotrace technique, invented in 1786 by Gilles-Louis Chretien.[3] Portrait subjects included Alexander Macomb, John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Christopher G. Champlin, and others.

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon

After returning to France, he worked as director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon from 1817 to 1852. He died in Dijon on 23 June 1852.


  1. ^ Marquis Who Was Who in America 1607–1984.
  2. ^ Frances Sergeant Childs. French Refugee Life in the United States 1790–1800 - An American Chapter of the French Revolution. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins press, 1940; p.39
  3. ^ Howard Rice. Saint-Memin's portrait of Jefferson. Princeton University Library Chronicle v.20, no.4. 1959

Selected worksEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Frank Weitenkampf. Sketch of the life of Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de Saint-Mémin. NY: Grolier Club, 1899.
  • Morgan, John Hill. "The Work of M. Fevret de Saint-Mémin," in the Brooklyn Museum Quarterly, January 1918, Vol. V, No. 1.
  • Norfleet, Fillmore. Saint-Mémin in Virginia: Portraits and Biographies. Richmond, VA: Dietz Press, 1942.
  • Miles, Ellen G. “Saint-Mémin in the South 1803–1809.” Southern Quarterly 25, no. 1 (1986): 22-39.
  • Miles, Ellen G.. “Saint-Mémin’s Portraits of American Indians 1804–1807.” American Art Journal 20, no. 4 (1988): 2-33.
  • Miles, Ellen G. Saint-Mémin and the Neoclassical Profile Portrait in the America. Washington: National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994.
  • Christopher Rolfe. Saint-Memin, Charles Balthazar Julien Fevret de (1770–1852). France and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 205.

External linksEdit