Puvis de Chavannes
born Dec. 14, 1824, Lyon, France
died Oct. 24, 1898, Paris
the leading French mural painter of thelater 19th century. He was
largely independent of the major artistic currents of his time and
was much admired by a diverse group of artists and critics,
including Georges Seurat, Paul Gauguin, Charles Baudelaire, and
Puvis's teachers included Thomas Couture and Eugène Delacroix.
Although he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salons from the 1860s
on, Puvis is best remembered for the huge canvases he painted for
the walls of city halls and otherpublic buildings throughout France.
He developed a style characterized by simplified forms, rhythmic
line, and pale, flat, frescolike colouring for allegorical pieces
and idealizations of themes from antiquity. In 1861 he began an
important series of paintings that became part of the decorative
scheme (completed 1882) for the museum at Amiens. Among his other
major commissions is a series of panels in the Panthéon, Paris,
illustrating the life of St. Geneviève. Begun in 1876, the work was
completed by his students after his death. Other important Paris
murals are inthe Sorbonne (1887–89) and the Hôtel de Ville
(completed in 1893). He also painted the staircase of the public
library at Boston (1894–98).
He is known primarily for his large
decorative schemes depicting figures in landscape. Although he is
generally regarded as a precursor of SYMBOLISM, he was independent
of any contemporary movement, and his works appealed to academic and
avant-garde artists alike.