Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre
(1824–98). The foremost French mural painter of the second half
of the 19th century.
He decorated many public buildings in
France (for example, the Panthéon, the
Sorbonne, and the Hôtel de Ville, all
in Paris) and also Boston Public Library. His paintings were done on
canvas and then affixed to the walls (marouflage), but their pale colors
imitated the effect of fresco. He had only modest success early in his
career (when a private income enabled him to work for little payment),
but he went on to achieve an enormous reputation, and he was universally
respected even by artists of very different aims and outlook from his own.
were among his professed admirers. His reputation has since declined,
his idealized depictions of antiquity or allegorical representations of
abstract themes now often seeming rather anæmic. He remains important,
however, because of his influence on younger artists.
His simplified forms, respect for the
flatness of the picture surface, rhythmic line, and use of non-naturalistic
color to evoke the mood of the painting appealed to both the