Francois Brunery Italy
1849 Turin, ITA - 1-16-1926 Rome, ITABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Francois Brunery seems to have left Turin in the 1860s for Paris where he studied with two of the most prestigious academic painters of the day, Jean-Léon Gérôme and Léon Bonnat. Gérôme had established his reputation in the 1850s as a painter of classical themes, and then expanded his repertoire to include Orientalist themes. In addition his interest in anecdotal history painting, in which famous historical figures are shown going about about ordinary everyday activities, would serve as an example to Brunery in later years.
Likewise, Léon Bonnat, one of Gérôme’s friends, was a well-established academic artist in 1860s Paris. Together, the two men left Paris in 1868 on an extended painting trip to the Middle East. It was after his return from Jerusalem and Egypt that Bonnat began to experiment with anecdotal genre paintings.
With his education completed, Francois Brunery returned again to Italy. Although many of his paintings remain undated, there are a number of them that seem to have been created in the 1870s in Venice and the surrounding regions. During these years, Brunery created many small format views of Venetian canals, piazzas and bridges, perhaps using the plein-air technique of painting on site. These typically small paintings were very appealing to the tourist trade, and no doubt provided Brunery with a respectable income from his art.
Francois Brunery also mastered anecdotal genre painting during his time in Italy, beginning with the so-called “cavalier” painting tradition that had been popular in Venice since at least the 1700s. Such images were enduringly popular, and Brunery’s technical virtuosity showcased his considerable skill in creating a convincing light-hearted-and often slightly satirical-narrative.
As his career evolved, Francois Brunery developed a particular specialty in what are now known as “Cardinal Paintings”. These images depicting cardinals of the Catholic church in comical or embarrassing situations, became increasingly popular in the late nineteenth century.
Brunery’s contribution to the Cardinal Painting genre was substantial. Some of these works are good-humored illustrations of the all too human nature of prominent churchmen. It is worth noting that this anticlerical satire found a welcome audience among people from all classes and was widely appreciated by academic and avant-garde artists alike.
By the 1890s, Francois Brunery established an international reputation as a painter of anecdotal genre scenes, he began to explore the alluring American market for collectors. In 1911, a number of Brunery’s paintings were included in an auction at the American Art Association. His work seems to have been a popular success in the United States, including not only the Cardinal Paintings, but the landscapes and cavalier genre paintings as well.
Art Movement: Academic
Influences: Jean-Léon Gérôme, Léon Bonnat
Traveled: France, Egypt, Israel