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de Chavannes, Pierre Puvis [French, 1824-1898]

[ 19th Century Artists ]

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. Gauguin, Seurat, and Toulouse-Lautrec 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 Post-Impressionists and the Symbolists.


  de Chavannes, Pierre Puvis [French, 1824-1898]

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