Jules Joseph Lefebvre Biography | Oil Paintings

3-14-1836 Tournan-en-Brie, FRA – 2-24-1911 Paris, FRA

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Lefebvre, Jules Joseph

Jules Joseph Lefebvre liked to draw when he was young and his father, a baker, realized the potential talent in his son and encouraged him to study painting, and when Lefebvre was sixteen years old, with the help of his father, he applied for a scholarship from the city and was granted 1000 Francs yearly for five years, so his father sent him off to study in Paris in 1852. In Paris, Jules Joseph Lefebvre became a student of Léon Cogniet at the École des Beaux Arts and his painting debut at the Paris Salon was in 1855. He spent the next five years trying to win the coveted Prix de Rome, in 1859 he came close, getting second place, and finally, in 1861 he won first place with his history painting The Death of Priam. Winning the prize allowed him to stay in Rome from three to five years, paid for by the French government.

It was during his study in Rome that Jules Joseph Lefèbvre found his artistic style, he was able to study the great Italian masters, and was captivated by the Mannerist painters, especially Andrea Del Sarto. He reproduced his works and his painting Boy Painting a Tragic Mask showed Andrea Del Sarto influence. 1863 turned to be was the best of times and the worst of times, it was during this time that his interest in painting the female nude began, but, this same year, both his parents and one of his sisters died, this bad news sent him into a severe depression.

He rose up out of his depression and returned back to Paris in 1867 with a different approach to art and a change in subject matter. He became noticeably embittered with the customary formulaic way to deal with painting, rather turning towards more exact rendering from life. In 1868 Jules Joseph Lefebvre exhibited A Reclining Nude at the Salon, which unlike his last significant work, won him much praise. Two years later, his allegory of The Truth became his first great success with the public and the critics, and a little bit of scandal since the nude model was the well-known actress, Sophie Croizette .

What followed in the decades to come was a minor departure on The Truth. His nudes became so famous that his only rival was considered to be William Bouguereau. But Bouguereau only used only very few female models for his oil paintings, Jules Joseph Lefebvre on the other hand, used a greater variety of nude models, thereby giving the public more to choose from.

In the 1870’s he became a teacher at the Academie Julien, besides the male students, the school admitted women artists over a decade before they were allowed into L’École des Beaux Arts. He was a kind but tough teacher and insisted on absolute exactness in life drawing. He became the most admired and sought after teacher by American ex-patriots, who came to Paris to study and among Jules Joseph Lefèbvre most famous American students, were Child Hassam, Frank Benson, and Edmund Tarbell.

Art Movement: Academic.
Artists Influencing Jules Joseph Lefèbvre: Léon Cogniet, Andrea del Sarto.
He Traveled To Italy.
Painters Jules Joseph Lefebvre Influenced: Child Hassam, Frank Benson, Edmund Tarbell, Fernand Khnopff, Kenyon Cox, Félix Vallotton, Ernst Friedrich von Liphart, Georges Rochegrosse, William Hart, Walter Lofthouse Dean.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist, with text adapted from Wikipedia.

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