Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alexandre Cabanel, One of the Last Great Academicians

Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) was an important member of the French academic art establishment during the second half of the 19th century. Although he placed second in the 1845 Prix de Rome competition, a bureaucratic quirk allowed him funding to study in Rome 1846-1850. In 1855 he was appointed Knight of the Legion of Honor, and he became an Officer in 1863. He opened his own studio in the École des Beaux-Arts that same year. He was a member of the Salon jury in the 1860s. In 1870 he became a Salon vice-president. And in 1875 he became chairman of the Salon's paintings jury. Cabanel's health declined in the late 1880s and he died in January 1889.

His fairly brief Wikipedia entry is here. Perhaps the most interesting information there is a list of his Beaux-Arts pupils. They include Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Eugène Carrière, Pierre-August Cot, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Henri Gervex, Aristide Maillol, Henri Regnault, Solomon J. Solomon and Adolphe Willette.

As for his art, Cabanel was not a pure pompier school academician, though did produce works of that kind.

Below are examples of Cabanel's paintings in chronological order.


Albaydé - 1848
Painted while studying in Rome.

Death of Moses - Musée Fabre version - 1850
Displayed on his return from Rome.

The Glorification of St. Louis - c.1854

The Birth of Venus - 1863
Probably Cabanel's most famous painting. It can be found in Paris' Musée d'Orsay.

Emperor Napoléon III - 1865

The Druidess - 1868

Christina Nilsson as Pandora - 1873

The Nymph Echo - 1874
Note the loosely painted setting.

Phaedra - 1880
Here everything is hard-edge.

Mary Victoria Leiter, later Lady Curzon - 1887

Olivia Peyton Murray Cutting - 1887
Compare the poses and settings of these ladies painted the same year. Was Cabanel "mailing it in" as his health declined?

Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners - 1887
Perhaps his last "pompier" work.

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