Theodore Gudin

Artist: Gudin, Theodore

Theodore Gudin
Theodore Gudin

Movement(s): –

Jean Antoine Theodore Gudin ( 1802 – 1880) was a French marine painter. Along with Louis-Philippe Crepin, he became one of the first two official Peintres de la Marine in 1830.

Gudin was born in Paris. Nothing is known of his father and, in his memoirs, he seems to suggest that his mother was a widow who took full responsibility for raising him and his older brother, Jean-Louis (1799-1823).

He was enrolled at a naval school, but quit his studies to go to New York, where he mingled with the Bonapartists in exile. In 1819, he joined the United States Navy and sailed aboard the Manchester Packet, a 250 ton brig.

In 1822, he returned to Paris and, inspired by his brother he decided to pursue a career in art and found a position in the studios of Anne-Louis Girodet. The following year, he and his brother were involved in a shipwreck on the Seine, from which he escaped. His brother drowned, however, and this affected him deeply for the rest of his life.

Gudin went with his friend, French Navy officer Abel Aubert du Petit-Thouars, to participate in the Algerian Expedition, where he made numerous sketches.

Upon his return, he was named a “Peintre de la Marine” at the court of Louis Philippe. Over the next few years, he made painting trips to Italy, Switzerland and Russia. He was then created a Baron by the King and commissioned to produce ninety paintings on French naval history for the Palace of Versailles, a monumental task that apparently undermined his health.

In 1844, he married Louise Margaret Hay (1820-1890), daughter of the English General James Hay (1788-1862) and goddaughter of the King. They had three children, including the painter Henriette Gudin.

He served as Vice-President of the ‘Société centrale de sauvetage des naufragés” (sea rescue) which he helped to create in 1864, in memory of his late brother Jean Louis.

After the fall of the Empire in 1870, he went into self-imposed exile in England and used the name “Gordon”. He was able to return to France in 1879, following the death of Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, and died at Boulogne-Billancourt in 1880.

Click here to read Gudin’s full bio on Wikipedia.

Baron Gudin painted in a few other places in France. A link “” to their respective works will appear below when published.

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