François-Léon Benouville (French, 1821-1859)
Portrait of Leconte de Floris in an Egyptian Army Uniform, 1840
Oil on canvas, 52 3/4 x 35 1/2 in
Signed and dated lower left: BENOUVILLE / 1840

The sitter for this portrait was one of the French military officers sent to Egypt as envoys of King Louis-Philippe to thank Pasha Muhammed Ali for donating the ancient Obelisk of Rameses II, erected in Paris’s Place de la Concorde in 1836. Benouville entered the École des Beaux-Arts in 1837 as a student of Édouard Picot (1782-1875), and after several attempts, went on to share the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1845 with Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889). In 1852 he and Cabanel executed several decorative paintings (now destroyed) for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris, but few large-scale compositions by this artist survive. Considered by many to be among the most promising history painters of his time, Benouville died of typhoid fever at the age of thirty-eight.