Sizeranne, Robert de la

Full Name: 
Sizeranne, Robert Henri Marie Bénigne de
Date Born: 
28 April 1866
Date Died: 
14 September 1932
Place Born: 
Tain-l'Hermitage, Drôme, France
Place Died: 
Paris, France
Home Country: 
Subject Area: 
19th-century painting

French historian of English art and photography, introduced Proust to the work of Ruskin. Sizeranne was born to a noble family. His grandfather was the Count of la Sizeranne and grandmother the daughter of the Marquis de Cordoue. His parents were first cousins, Jean Maxime Monier de la Sizeranne (1825-1906), a landscape painter, and Mathilde M Georgette Monier de la Sizeranne (b. 1836). He appears to have come in contact with the novelist Paul Bourget (1852-1935) and his group, who, among other things, were British arts enthusiasts. Sizeranne published an initial article, on photography, “Le Photographe et l'artiste” in the Revue des deux mondes in 1893. It was there that he first mentioned in print the aesthetician and proto-art historian John Ruskin and Ruskin’s views on the medium. After graduating from law school he served the cour d'appel (court of appeal) in 1895. He maintained a home at Chaluzange-le-Goubet, near Romans, France.


Revue des deux mondes beginning in 1893. He likely made a trip to England the following year, 1894, publishing a book the same year, La Peinture anglaise contemporaine. In it, he echoed Théophile Gautier’s contention that English landscape painting fit into the larger realm of European landscape painting, urging the Louvre to show more of it. The book was quickly translated into English by Henrietta May Poynter (1851-1932). the sister of the English painter Sir Edward Poynter. Sizeranne’s father had instilled in him an appreciation for the English landscape painters, which was perhaps how he became familiar with the work of Ruskin. Salon reviews in the Revue des deux mondes appeared shortly thereafter. In 1897 a full treatment of Ruskin’s thought appeared as Ruskin et la religion de la Beauté.

A theory book on photography appeared by him in 1899. In 1905 Sizeranne eulogized the late Ruskin in an essay at the International Congress of Art History in Venice, Ruskin at Venice. He perceptively stated that Ruskin saw Venice as ”an idealized England," trying "to reconcile England with the beautiful; Protestantism with Catholic festivals, luxury with democracy." Considered such an authority on English painting, he was asked to write the forward to the National Gallery of Art (London) catalog on the Later British School, in 1907. Between 1913 and 1927 he published "Les Masques et les visages à Florence et au Louvre: Portraits célèbres de la Renaissance italienne," a work following the tradition of Jakob Burckhardt and Charles Yriarte, examining the personalities of the Italian Renaissance.

Though Sizeranne wrote widely, his two main foci were photography and English painting. The Italian critic, Giuseppe Grabinski (1849-1910), praised Sizeranne’s writing "in which art history, aesthetics, and biography all have their own part to play.” Sizeranne’s dictates could be highly erratic. He considered Impressionism a failed experiment.

Selected Bibliography: 
  • La Peinture anglaise contemporaine. Paris: Hachette, 1895, English, The Pre-Raphaelites. New York: Parkstone Press International, 2008;
  • Ruskin et la religion de la Beauté. Paris: Hachette, 1897, English, Ruskin and the Religion of Beauty. London: George Allen, 1899,;
  • La Photographie est-elle un art ?. Paris: Hachette, 1899, English, Bunnell, Peter C., and Bourgeois, Paul, eds. The Aesthetics of French Photograph: Two Studies. New York: Arno Press, 1979;
  • Le Miroir de la Vie. Paris: Hachette, 1902;
  • Les Questions esthétiques contemporaines. Paris: Hachette, 1904;
  • Ruskin at Venice: a Lecture Given During the Ruskin Commemoration at Venice, September 21, 1905. London: George Allen, 1905;
  • [introduction] The National Gallery, London: the later British School. London: George Newnes, 1907;
  • Les Masques et les visages à Florence et au Louvre: Portraits célèbres de la Renaissance italienne. Paris: Hachette, 1913; [English] Celebrities of the Italian renaissance in Florence and in the Louvre. New York: Brentano's 1926;
  • L'Art pendant la guerre. Paris: Hachette, 1919;
  • [obituaries;] Doumic, René. “ Robert de La Sizeranne”. Revue des deux mondes 11 (October 1, 1932): 720;
  • Gillet, Louis. “Robert de La Sizeranne”. Revue des deux mondes 11 (October 15, 1932): 936-947;
  • Grabinski, Guiseppe. “Compte rendu de La Peinture anglaise contemporaine.” Rassegna Nazionale 16 (July 1896);
  • Bann, Stephen. “Robert de La Sizeranne, médiateur de Ruskin et de la peinture anglaise.” Relire Ruskin. Paris: École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts, 2003, pp. 103-119;
  • Bann, Stephen. “Analogie et Anachronisme dans l'œuvre critique de Robert de la Sizeranne.” Recht Roland, et al. Histoire de l'Histoire de l'art en France au XIXe siècle. Paris : La Documentation française, 2008, pp. 291-310.
  • Bann, Stephen. "La Sizeranne, Robert (de)." Dictionnaire critique des historiens de l'art, INHA
Lee Sorensen