Louis Cesar Joseph Ducornet, a French artist, born in Lille, Jan. 10, 1806, died April 27, 1856. He was born without arms, but learned in childhood to make his feet perform all the ordinary offices of hands. He had conceived a taste for painting, and so much astonished Watteau, professor at the school of design in Lille, by the drawings which he executed with his toes, that at the age of 13 he was received into the school as a pupil. Three years later he obtained the first prize for a drawing of the human figure from nature, on which occasion his native city settled upon him a pension of 300 francs, which was increased by the government to 1,500. Pursuing his studies in Paris, he produced in 1828 his "Parting of Hector and Andromache," which he presented to the city of Lille. After the revolution of 1830 his pension was withheld. One of his last works, "Edith finding the Body of Harold" (exhibited in 1855), was painted for Napoleon III. Ducornet was not only destitute of arms, but there were certain malformations in his lower limbs which seemed to present insurmountable obstacles to the acquisition of proficiency in his art. He nevertheless used his brushes with remarkable dexterity, passing them from one foot to the other with rapidity, and making the most delicate strokes with perfect ease and accuracy.
He had but four toes on each foot, but the wide space thereby left between the great toe and the next one rather facilitated the operation of painting. He was vivacious, and in an animated conversation was in the habit of gesticulating with his legs.