Evariste Vital Luminais France
10-13-1821 Nantes, FRA – 5-10-1896 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Aware of Évariste Vital Luminais natural artistic talent, his family sent him to Paris when he was 18 to study with the painter and sculptor Auguste Debay. He also studied with Léon Cogniet, a historical and portrait painter whose pupils included Léon Bonnat, and Constant Troyon, who painted landscapes and animals.
Évariste Vital Luminais made his official début at the 1843 Paris Salon, where two of his paintings were hung. He won medals at the Salons of 1852, 1855, 1857, 1861 and 1889. In 1869, he was awarded the Légion d'honneur. He won the gold medal at the 1889 Exposition, and was a founder member of the Société des Artistes Français. For more than forty years, he divided his time between his Paris studio and his summer house and studio in the village of Douadic.
Évariste Vital Luminais worked in the genre and historical modes. He was among the academic painters who satisfied a social demand for aggrandizing, even propagandistic historical works in the early years of the Third Republic, after the defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. However in some paintings, such as The Widow he foreshadows social realism. He also used a historical dressing to make hunting and peasant scenes more palatable to the Academy.
Luminais played an important part in disseminating the iconography of the Gauls; their popular image, with long hair and winged helmets, was developed by historians at this time as part of an examination of French history.
More unusually among historical artists of the time, he also depicted the Franks, whose contribution to French history was then generally underrated in favor of the Gauls. His painting of the Alemannic rout at the hands of the Franks in the Battle of Tolbiac and His Frankish Cavalry in Combat was inspired by reading Chateaubriand.
In 1880 Évariste Vital Luminais painted his most famous Merovingian painting, The Sons of Clovis II, also called Les Énervés de Jumièges (the enervated men of Jumièges), based on a legend concerning the 7th-century Merovingian king Clovis II: after rebelling against their father, the two princes are said to have been punished according to their own mother's suggestion by the removal of their vital force ("enervation") through the destruction of the tendons of their muscles; they were then set adrift on a raft in the River Seine, but according to the legend they were rescued by the monks of the Abbey of Jumièges and later reconciled with their parents.
Influences: Auguste Debay, Léon Cogniet
Influenced: Albert Maignan, Emily Sartain