Paul-Albert Besnard (1849-1934)
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Paul-Albert Besnard was born in Paris to artist parents. He began his own art studies at the age of 17 at the Ecole Des Beaux-Arts. During this time he also studied under Cabanel and Legros in Italy. Besnard would marry Charlotte Dubray, an artist and the daughter of sculptor parents as well. One of his greatest accomplishments was winning the Prix de Rome in 1874.
From early in his career until about 1880, Besnard painted primarily in the traditional manner. In fact, some have called Besnard the last true academic painter. By the early 1880s, Besnard broke away from this style of painting and began to embrace Impressionism. It was not the aspect of Realism that intrigued Besnard as much as it was the study of color and light that Impressionism allowed him. Perhaps his most impressive use of light and color in Impressionism is in his portrait of Madame Robert Jourdain, which is housed at the Louvre museum in Paris.
Between 1884-1889, Besnard began working heavily in etchings and prints. He was particularly interested in Japanese style of woodcuts at this time, and this reflected heavily in his art.
Aside from his many oil paintings and prints, Besnard also worked in watercolors and pastels to create landscapes and portraits.
Besnard was also often commissioned to create frescoes in buildings around Paris—the Sorbonne, Hotel de Ville and various medical and public buildings.
Today, Besnard’s work is housed all over the world, including at the Louvre and the Musee d’ Orsay and in public and private collections.
Because Besnard worked so extensively in etchings, the likelihood of someone owning one of his prints is very good. Even though most of his notable paintings are already housed in museums world wide, there is still a very good possibility of someone owning his earlier works. As a student, he traveled all of Europe and perhaps sold some of his work along the way. He was very accomplished and respected as a painter in his lifetime, and his work is still highly collectible today.
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