Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier France
2-21-1815 Lyon, FRA - 1-31-1891 Paris, FRABack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
From his schooldays Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier showed a taste for painting, at age seventeen, he obtained leave from his parents to become an artist. Following the recommendation of a painter named Potier, himself a second class Prix de Rome, he was admitted to Léon Cogniet's studio. He also formed his style after the Dutch masters as represented in the Louvre.
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier enjoyed great success in his lifetime, and was acclaimed both for his mastery of fine detail and assiduous craftsmanship.
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier's work commanded enormous prices and in 1846 he purchased a great mansion in Poissy, sometimes known as the Grande Maison. Like Alexandre Dumas, he excelled at depicting scenes of chivalry and masculine adventure against a backdrop of pre-Revolutionary and pre-industrial France, specializing in scenes from seventeenth and eighteenth-century life.
After some not very happy attempts at religious painting, he returned, under the influence of Chenavard, to the class of work Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier was born to excel in, and exhibited with much success the Game of Chess, the Young Man playing the 'Cello, Painter in his Studio, The Guard Room, the Young Man looking at Drawings, and the Game of Bowls, works which show the finish and certainty of his technique, and assured his success.
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier became known as the French Metsu, a reference to the seventeenth-century Dutch painter Gabriel Metsu, who specialized in miniature scenes of bourgeois domestic life.
When, in the summer of 1859, Emperor Napoleon III, together with Victor Emmanuel II King of Piedmont and Sardinia, tried to oust the Habsburgs from their territories in northern Italy, Meissonier received a government commission to illustrate scenes from the campaign. The Emperor Napoleon III at Solferino took Meissonier more than three years to complete.
In June 1868 Meissonier traveled to Antibes with canvas and easel. He may have been attracted there for historical reasons - in 1794 Napoleon had been imprisoned in Fort Carré, and in 1815, returning from exile on Elba in 1815 he had come ashore at Golfe-Jouan, and the island of Sainte-Marguerite where the Man in the Iron Mask was imprisoned.
Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier was attached by Napoleon III to the imperial staff, and accompanied him during the campaign in Italy at the beginning of the war in 1870. During the Siege of Paris (1870–1871) he was colonel of a regiment de marche, one of the improvised units thrown up in the chaos of the Franco-Prussian war.
Art Movement: Academic
Influences: Léon Cogniet
Traveled: Italy, Switzerland
Influenced: Édouard Detaille, Daniel Ridgway Knight, Alphonse Moutte, Louis Monziès