Pierre Puvis De Chavannes France
12-14-1824 Lyon, FRA - 10-24-1898 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
Pierre Puvis De Chavannes was educated at the Amiens College and at the Lycée Henri IV in Paris, and was intended to follow his father's profession when a serious illness interrupted his studies. He was compelled to convalesce at Mâcon with his brother and sister-in-law in 1844 and 1845. A journey to Italy opened his mind to fresh ideas, and on his return to Paris in 1846 he announced his intention to become a painter,. He went to study first under Eugène Delacroix, Henri Scheffer, and then under Thomas Couture.
His training was not classical as he found that he preferred to work alone. He took a large studio near the Gare de Lyon and attended anatomy classes at the Académie des Beaux Arts. It was not until a number of years later, when the government of France acquired one of his works, that Pierre Puvis De Chavannes gained wide recognition.
Pierre Puvis De Chavannes made his Salon debut in 1850 with Dead Christ, Negro Boy, The Reading Lesson, and Portrait of a Man.
His work is seen as symbolist in nature, even though he studied with some of the romanticists, and he is credited with influencing an entire generation of painters and sculptors, particularly the works of the Modernists. Over the course of his career, Puvis received a substantial number of commissions for works to be carried out in public and private institutions throughout France.
Puvis's career was tied up with a complicated debate that had been ongoing since the beginning of the Third Republic (1870), and at the end of the violence of the Paris Commune. The question at stake was the identity of France and the meaning of 'Frenchness'. Royalists felt that the revolution of 1789 had been an immense disaster and that France had been thrown off course, while the Republicans felt that the Revolution had allowed France to revert to its true course. Many scholars of Pierre Puvis De Chavannes works have noted that his success as a 'painter for France' was largely due to his ability to create works which were agreeable to the many ideologies in existence at this time.
Many of his works are characterized by their nod to classical art, visible in the careful balanced compositions, and the subject matter is frequently a direct reference to visions of Hellenistic Greece, particularly in the case of Antique Vision.
Pierre Puvis De Chavannes was president and co-founder in 1890 of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts founded in Paris. It became the dominant salon of art at the time and held exhibitions of contemporary art that was selected only by a jury composed of the officers of the Société.
Beginning in 1926, The Prix Puvis de Chavannes (Puvis de Chavannes prize) was awarded by the National Society of Fine Arts. The Prix Puvis de Chavannes is the retrospective exhibition in Paris of the main works of the artist awarded the prize that year. During the twentieth century, this exhibition was located at the Grand Palais or the Musée d'Art Moderne.
Art Movement: Symbolism
Influences: Eugene Delacroix, Henri Scheffer, Thomas Couture
Influenced: Georges de Feure, Hans Hofmann, Auguste Rodin