DECEMBER 14, ON THIS DAY
Pierre Cecile Puvis de Chavannes
Pierre Puvis de Chavannes was a French painter who became renowned as \”the painter for France\” for his mural work. He went on to co-found and serve as president of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, and many other painters, most notably Robert Genin, were influenced by his work. The author Émile Zola called his creations \”an art built of reason, passion, and will.\” Chavannes\’ colours became more subdued, and his figures became reduced, marking an essential milestone in the transition from representational to abstract art.
Puvis de Chavannes was a French artist born on December 14, 1824. Chavannes studied at the Amiens College and at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris. His first teacher of art was Eugene Delacroix, who closed his studio shortly afterward due to ill health. Puvis went on to study art under the guidance of Henri Scheffer and Thomas Couture. The painter also attended anatomy classes at the Académie des Beaux-Arts.
His first job was for his brother\’s chateau, Le Brouchy, a Saone-et-Loire building with a medieval appearance close to Cuiseaux. The four seasons serve as the inspiration for the main decorations. Early in the 1860s, he received his first public commission for a piece for the Musee de Picardie in Amiens. Le Travail, Le Repos, Concordia, and Bellum were the first four pieces. Puvis produced numerous mural paintings during the course of his long career. In Paris, he completed Science, Art, and Letters in the Sorbonne as well as the Life of St. Genevieve in the Pantheon. In the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, he completed the Sacred Grove, the Antique Vision, and Christian Inspiration. In the Boston Public Library, he painted Pastoral Poetry. These commissions demonstrate how highly esteemed Puvis was in his own lifetime. Among his most celebrated oil paintings are Hope and the Poor Fisherman.
The Poor Fisherman
After the French government purchased one of his pieces in 1887, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes became quite famous. In 1890, he became the president and co-founder of the revitalization of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, one of the dominant salons of Paris during the nineteenth century. Chavannes is regarded as being one of the leaders of the Symbolist art movement and helped to inspire a slew of young artists, including Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Georges Seurat, and Robert Genin.
The Wine Press
His topics, which included religious themes, allegories, myths, and historical events, were unmistakably in line with academic tradition. Although he typically worked with broad, uncomplicated compositions and refrained from the harsh photographic realism that had started to characterize academic painting at the turn of the century, his style overshadowed his outmoded topics. Additionally, the space and figures in his paintings tended to be flat, drawing emphasis on the substrate of the images. These characteristics gave his work a contemporary, abstract appearance and set it apart from the stuffy heritage it could have otherwise been associated with. Along with their modern, formal qualities, Puvis\’s paintings displayed a range of feelings that were peaceful and poetic. His figures frequently seem to be wrapped in an aura of ritualistic mystery, as though they belong in a private world of dreams or visions. Yet these feelings invariably seem fresh and sincere. He died in Paris on Oct. 10, 1898.
Ludus Pro Patria