Paul Albert Besnard - Encyclopedia


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PAUL ALBERT BESNARD (1849-), French painter, was born in Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, winning the Prix de Rome in 1874. Until about 1880 he followed the academic tradition, but then broke away completely, and devoted himself to the study of colour and light as conceived by the impressionists. The realism of this group never appealed to his bold imagination, but he applied their technical method to ideological and decorative works on a large scale, such as his frescoes at the Sorbonne, the Ecole de Pharmacie, the Salle des Sciences at the hotel de ville, the mairie of the first arrondissement, and the chapel of Berck hospital, for which he painted twelve "Stations of the Cross" in an entirely modern spirit.

A great virtuoso, he achieved brilliant successes alike in watercolour, pastel, oil and etching, both in portraiture, in landscape and in decoration. A good example of his daring unconventionality is his portrait of Madame Rejane; and his close analysis of light can be studied in his picture "Femme qui se chauffe" at the Luxembourg in Paris.

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