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Léon Bonnat

Antoine François Marmontel

Cardinal Charles Lavigerie, archbishop of Algiers (1825-1892)

Portrait of Father Lavigerie

Nude woman kneeling

Portrait of Victor Hugo


Portrait of Jules Grévy

The Raising of Lazarus


Sleeping Girl

Italian Woman

Portrait Of Mademoiselle Franchetti

The young artist's sister

Portrait of the Sculptor Barye

An Egyptian Peasant Woman and Her Child

Pilgrims in front of the statue of St. Peter

Portrait of the Countess Emanuella Pignatelli Potocka

Portrait of Ignacy Paderewski

Portrait of Madame Léopold Stern

Portrait Of Madame Albert Cahen d’Anvers

Alexandre Dumas Fils (1824-1895)

Inside the Sistine Chapel

Joseph Dreyfus

Portrait of a man

Portrait of a girl

Portrait of Henri Harpignies

The barber

An Oriental Barbershop

Charles Ephrussi

Emma Debussy (1862-1934, née Emma Moyse, also known as Emma Bardac from her first marriage)

Portrait of Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe

Portrait of Henri-Eugène-Philippe-Emmanuels d’Orléans, Duke of Aumale,in the uniform of the Legion of Honor

Portrait of Henri-Eugène-Philippe-Emmanuels d’Orléans Duke of Aumale

Hippolyte Taine


Marie Kann

Portrait of Isaac Pereire (1806-1880)

Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

Portrait of Jules Ferry

Cardinal Charles-Martial-Allemand Lavigerie, Archbishop of Algiers

Self-portrait / Portrait of a young Man

Roman Girl at a Fountain

Portrait of Monsieur Allard

An Arab Sheik


Head of a woman

Arabian Sheikhs in the Mountains

Italian Woman

Giotto guarding goats

The victim

Portrait of Madame Dotézac

Portrait of Mary Sears

Portrait of Barye with a Wax Model of "Seated Lion"

Portrait of George Aloysius Lucas

Portrait of the Artist

Portrait of William T. Walters

The Hand of Antoine-Louis Barye

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Leon Bonnat Painting - Portrait Of Victor Hugo by Leon Bonnat

Portrait Of Victor Hugo

Leon Bonnat

Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat (20 June 1833 – 8 September 1922) was a French painter.

Early life

He was born in Bayonne, but from 1846 to 1853 he lived in Madrid, where his father owned a bookshop.[1] While tending his father's shop, he copied engravings of works by the Old Masters, developing a passion for drawing. In Madrid he received his artistic training under Madrazo. He later worked in Paris, where he became known as a leading portraitist, never without a commission. His many portraits show the influence of Velázquez, Jusepe de Ribera and other Spanish masters, as well as Titian and Van Dyke, whose works he studied in the Prado. Following the period in Spain Bonnat worked the ateliers of the history painters Paul Delaroche and Leon Cogniet (1854) in Paris. Despite repeated attempts, he failed to win the prix de Rome, finally receiving only a second prize. However, a scholarship from his native Bayonne allowed him to spend three years in Rome (1858–60) independently. During his stay in Rome, he became friends with Edgar Degas, Gustave Moreau, Jean-Jacques Henner and the sculptor Henri Chapu.


He won a medal of honor in Paris in 1869, going on to become one of the leading artists of his day. Bonnat went on to win the Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur and became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1882. Bonnat was quite popular with American students in Paris. In addition to his native French, he spoke Spanish and Italian and knew English well, to the relief of many monolingual Americans. In May 1905 he succeeded Paul Dubois as director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Julius Kaplan characterised Bonnat as "a liberal teacher who stressed simplicity in art above high academic finish, as well as overall effect rather than detail."[2] Bonnat's emphasis on overall effect on the one hand, and rigorous drawing on the other, put him in a middle position with respect to the Impressionists and academic painters like his friend Jean-Léon Gérôme. In 1917, Bonnat was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Honorary Corresponding member.[3]

"The Resurrection of Lazarus" by Bonnat in 1857

Bonnat's vivid portraits of contemporary celebrities are his most characteristic works, but his most important works are arguably his powerful religious paintings, such as his Christ on the Cross (now in the collection of the Musée du Petit Palais in Paris, but not currently on display), Job (in the Musée Bonnat), St Vincent Taking the Place of Two Galley Slaves (at the church of Saint-Nicholas des Champs in Paris), and the large Martyrdom of St Denis for the Pantheon in Paris. However, he received few commissions for religious and historical paintings, and most of his output consists of portraits. He also produced genre paintings of Italian peasants, and a small number of Orientalist scenes.

The writers Émile Zola and Théophile Gautier were among Bonnat's supporters. Gautier hailed him as "the antithesis of Bouguereau," because of the stark naturalism and lack of surface finish that characterize Bonnat's work. Bonnat is an academic painter. He was a member of the Institute, one of the only 14 painters who had administrative power over the Academy des Beaux Arts and thereby the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He had friends and connections among the independent artists of his time as well, such as Edgar Degas, whom he met during his stay in Rome and who painted two portraits of Bonnat, and Édouard Manet, who shared his predilection for Spanish painting. He taught together with Pierre Puvis de Chavannes in the private atelier he ran before becoming professor at the École. He supported Auguste Rodin's candidacy for the Institut, and defended Gustave Courbet's submissions to the salon.

Later life

In a gesture of gratitude for the help he had been provided in his youth, Bonnat built a museum in his native city of Bayonne, the Musée Bonnat. Most of the works in the museum are from Bonnat's personal collection of works of art, amassed over a lifetime of travelling around Europe. It includes an exceptionally fine collection of Old Master drawings from Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo to Ingres and Géricault.

Bonnat died on 8 September 1922 at Monchy-Saint-Éloi; he never married, and lived for much of his life with his mother and sister in the Place Vintimille.[4]

Some of Bonnat's more notable students include: John Singer Sargent, Stanhope Forbes, Gustave Caillebotte, Prince Eugen, Duke of Närke, Gustaf Cederström, Laurits Tuxen, P. S. Krøyer, Suzor-Coté, Alfred Philippe Roll, Georges Braque, Thomas Eakins, Raoul Dufy, Jean Béraud, Marius Vasselon, Hubert-Denis Etcheverry, Fred Barnard, Louis Béroud, Paul de la Boulaye, Aloysius O'Kelly, Erik Werenskiold, Edvard Munch, Alphonse Osbert, Henry Siddons Mowbray, Charles Sprague Pearce, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Hyakutake Kaneyuki and Walter Tyndale.[5]

See also

Musée Bonnat


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Artfact.com. Retrieved November 27, 2006.
Julius Kaplan, "Leon Bonnat", The Dictionary of Art, Volume IV, New York: Grove, 1996, ISBN 9781884446009, p. 329.
New York Times
World Wide Arts Resources. Retrieved November 27, 2006.


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