Alfred Philippe Roll - Encyclopedia

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ALFRED PHILIPPE ROLL (1846-), French painter, was born in Paris on the 1st of March 1846. Pupil of Gerome and Bonnat at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, he made his debut at the Salon in 1870 with "Environs of Baccarat" and "Evening," and attracted the widest attention in 1875 by his colossal painting of "The Flood at Toulouse" (now at the Havre Museum). All his early work is imbued with the spirit of romanticism under the influence of Gericault, whilst his colour tended to Bolognese heaviness with a strong leaning towards dark shadows in the flesh painting, in which he closely followed Courbet. In 1877 he showed at the Salon the "Fete of Silenus" (now at the Ghent Museum), a painting of such vivid colour and exuberant life that it recalls the work of Jordaens. About this time he began to devote himself to the realistic rendering of modern life, especially among the working classes, and together with romantic subjects he abandoned his earlier heavy colouring, and devoted himself to the study of free light. His "Miners' Strike" of 1880 (now at the Valenciennes Museum) placed him in the front rank of modern French painters, and from that date his career was one of continuous and brilliant success. He became "official painter" to the French government, and was entrusted with numerous commissions for the decoration of public buildings and for commemorative pictures, like the "President Carnot at Versailles at the Centenary of the Etats Generaux" (now at Versailles Palace), and "The Tzar and President Faure laying the Foundation Stone of the Alexandre III. Bridge." For the Hotel de Ville he executed "The Pleasures of Life" and "The Rosetime of Youth." Besides the pictures already mentioned, a vast number of his works are to be found in the public galleries of France. The museum of the Hotel de Ville in Paris owns his "National Fete at Paris in 1880"; the Cognac Museum, "Labour, Works at Suresnes"; the Luxembourg, his "War" and "Manda Lametrie, farm-hand." At Avignon Museum is the "Don Juan and Haidee"; at Laval Museum, "Halt !"; at Fontainebleau Palace, "In Normandy"; at Pau Museum, "Roubey, cementer"; and at the Museum of Geneva, "Marianne Offrey, crieuse de vert." In portraiture he is known by his "Yves Guyot," "Coquelin cadet," "Jules Simon," &c., but his greatest success was the group of "Fritz Thaulow and his Wife." In 1905 he replaced Carolus-Duran as president of the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, of which he was one of the founders.

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