Guillaume Seignac France
7-1870 Rennes, FRA – 1-16-1924 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Guillaume Seignac’s instructors at the Ecole des Beaux-arts, William Bouguereau, Tony Robert-Fleury and Gabriel Ferrier, undoubtedly nurtured his appreciation for traditional subject matter based on the seventeenth century French canon of Nicolas Poussin as well as the neo-classicists of the early nineteenth century. As with most academically trained painters, Guillaume Seignac’s technical skills were formidable; drawing the human figure was highly prized, and understanding the compositional strategies of Italian renaissance painters would have been a basic element of any artist’s professional education.
In Seignac’s painting, however, there is also a fascination with the contrapposto poses typical of the figures in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco. This method allows Guillaume Seignac not only to pay homage to the proportional ideal of western beauty, but also to create a more dynamic composition using a solitary figure.
The same type of attention to a classical standard may be seen in Seignac’s extraordinary handling of diaphanous drapery. Whether depicting a modest woman swathed head-to-toe in a Greek-styled garment or a semi-nude nymph clad only in transparent cloth, Seignac uses drapery to reveal the body beneath the fabric.
Seignac’s career flourished in the midst of the tumultuous fin-de-siècle art world of Paris—an environment that nourished a wealth of artistic developments from the commercial poster art of Toulouse-Lautrec to the private abstractions of Bonnard and Vuillard to the ever-popular paintings of Jules Breton.
Beginning in 1897, Guillaume Seignac exhibited regularly at the Salon des Artistes Françaises, winning an honorable mention in 1900, and a Third Class medal in 1903.
Auction records indicate that Guillaume Seignac’s paintings were selling well in New York and London, as well as Paris, in the decade before World War I. Allegorical subjects with classical references such as Youth and Love or Young Girl from Pompeii in a Garden were especially popular with American audiences, both before the war and in the 1920s. Paintings depicting domestic subjects, as in Children in the Kitchen or Young Girl at a Well, were most sought after during the 1950s and 60s, while Seignac’s idealized nudes began attracting market attention in the 1970s and later. Since the 1990s Seignac’s work has enjoyed a notable resurgence of interest.
Art Movement: Academic Art
Influences: Gabriel Ferrier, Tony Robert-Fleury, William Bouguereau