Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)
2011 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Théophile Gautier. The young Théophile Gautier was originally set on a future as a painter before being introduced to literature through Victor Hugo and the battle of Hernani in 1830. The artist thus became a wordsmith and his work as a writer took many forms: he was by turns, an art critic, journalist, novelist, poet and writer of ballets. He was also unable to resist the attraction of travel and ventured into Spain, Algeria, Egypt and Russia. Gautier was an influential, though hard to categorise critic who supported the greatest artists of his time (from Delacroix to Ingres or Chasseriau) while dedicating his life to the pursuit of "the beauty in art" as he himself defined it: "There is nothing truly beautiful but that which can never be of any use whatsoever; everything useful is ugly..."