Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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SAINT MEMIN, Charles Balthazar Julien Fevre de, artist, born in Dijon, France, 12 Nareh, 1770; died there, 23 June, 1852. He was entered as a cadet in the military school in Paris, 1 April, 1784, and appointed ensign, 27 April, 1788. At the opening of the French revolution he was loyal to the crown, and joined the army of the princes, serving until it was disbanded, when he retired to Switzerland, and came thence to this country He landed in Canada in 1793, but soon afterward reached New York. While with the army he had given attention to drawing and painting, and in Swit-zerland he had learned to carve and gild wood.A compatriot named Chr6tien had invented a machine in 1786 which he called a physionotrace, by means of which the human profile could be copied with mathematical accuracy. It had great success in France, and Saint M6min determined to introduce it into this country. He constructed such a machine with his own hands, according to his understanding of it, and also made a pantograph, by which to reduce the original design. His life-size profiles on pink paper, finished in black crayon, were reduced by the pantograph to a size small enough to be engraved within a perfect circle two inches in diameter. The machine, of course, only gave the outline, the finishing being done in one ease with crayon, and in the other with the graver and roulette, by which means he took in this country more than 800 portraits. The drawing and engraved plate, with a dozen proofs, became the property of the sitter for the price of $33, the artist reserving only a few proofs of each portrait. With these proofs he formed two sets, and wrote upon each impression the name of the subject. These two complete collections were brought to this court-try in 1859, and one of them is now in the Corcoran gallery, Washington, D.C. While in this country Saint MSmin resided principally in Philadelphia and New York, but made visits to other cities, taking' portraits. While he was in Philadelphia in 1798 he secured a profile portrait of Washington, which is especially interesting as being the last portrait of him that was taken from life. In 1810 Saint M5min returned to France, where he remained two years, at the end of which time he settled again in this country, when he abandoned engraving and followed portraitand landscape-painting. In October, 1814, he finally quitted the United States for France, and in 1817 he was appointed director of the museum at Dijon, which post he occupied at the time of his death. Mathematics and Inechanics were the pursuits he loved most to follow, the arts being merely a money-making adjunct; but we owe to the physionotrace and graver of Saint MSmin the preservation of the lineaments of many distinguished citizens.
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