Monday, January 13, 2014

François Flameng: Seriously Versatile

François Flameng (1856-1923) is probably best remembered -- if he's remembered at all outside France -- as a portrait artist. Maybe that is the problem. You see, Flameng was an almost exact contemporary of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the foremost portraitist of his era, not to mention others in the portrait game at around the same time such as Anders Zorn (1860-1920), Joaquin Sorolla (1863-1923), Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931), John Lavery (1856-1941) and even Phillip de Laszlo (1869-1937). So Flameng's space in the mental real estate of art historians is necessarily modest, given his competition.

I find this unfortunate, because it seems that he was both good and versatile, as we shall see from the images below. Biographical information of a limited sort can be found in English here, and in French here.


Zinaida Yusupova - 1894
Portrait de Mme Meunier
Queen Alexandra - 1908
These three formal, commissioned portraits indicate what Flameng painted and suggest why he was hired to do so. One curiosity: Every subject is posed directly facing the artist and viewer. Makes one wonder how their noses were shaped.

Portrait of a Young Woman
This was either a modest commission or a painting made on the initiative of the artist. Yet another full-face view, this showing narrow-set eyes. Nevertheless, a pretty portrait of a believable lady.

Ile Pointeaux
Interesting sort of landscape here. It has something of the character of an illustration. That might be because Flameng actually was an illustrator as well as a fine-arts painter.

Soldats anglais dans les vieux remparts de Péronne
Spads [model XI] Patrolling - 1918
La citadelle de Verdun: les casemates
Speaking of illustration, above are some of many works by Flameng when he carried out his duties as a war artist during the Great War when he was about 60 years old.

Portrait of Max Decugis (son-in-law of the artist)
Probably a late work. No face-on view here, and plenty of the subject's character showing. Too bad more portraits aren't done in this sort of way.

Riviera Promenade
Another apparently late painting. Wish I was there (then or now!).

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