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date: 11 December 2019

Bonnat, Léon(-Joseph-Florentin)locked

(b Bayonne, June 20, 1833; d Monchy-Saint-Eloi, Oise, Sept 8, 1922).
  • Julius Kaplan

Extract

(b Bayonne, June 20, 1833; d Monchy-Saint-Eloi, Oise, Sept 8, 1922).

French painter, collector and teacher. He lived in Madrid from 1846 to 1853, where his father owned a bookshop, and there he studied with both José de Madrazo y Agudo and Federico de Madrazo y Küntz. After moving to Paris in 1854, he entered Léon Cogniet’s atelier at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and competed for the Prix de Rome in 1854, 1855 and 1857. He won second prize in 1857 with the Resurrection of Lazarus (Bayonne, Mus. Bonnat), a painting characterized by the jury as frank, firm and powerful, terms applied to his art throughout his career. His early paintings of historical and religious subjects gave way in the late 1860s to the less esteemed field of genre—scenes of Italian life and the Near East—based on sketches made during visits to Italy (1858–60; see fig.) and the Near East and Greece (1868–70).

Bonnat’s final change of career occurred in the mid- to late 1870s, when he became internationally renowned for his portraits, particularly of members of the European and American establishment. His highly realistic technique reflected his frequent use of photographs as models. The portraits, which cost 30,000 francs each, were so desirable that by the 1880s he had to schedule three to four sittings a day to accommodate his long waiting list....

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