Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
He was born Pierre-Cécile Puvis de Chavannes in Lyon, Rhône, France, the son of a mining engineer, descendant of an old family of Burgundy. Pierre Puvis was educated at the Lyons College and at the Lycee Henri IV in Paris, and was intended to follow his father's profession when a serious illness interrupted his studies. A journey to Italy opened his mind to fresh ideas, and on his return to Paris in 1844 he announced his intention of becoming a painter, and went to study first under Eugène Delacroix, Henri Scheffer, and then under Thomas Couture. It was not until a number of years later, when the government of France acquired one of his works, that he gained wide recognition.
His work is seen as symbolist in nature, even though he studied with some of the romanticists, and he is credited with influencing an entire generation of painters and sculptors. One of his protégés was Georges de Feure.
Puvis de Chavannes is noted for painting murals, several of which may be seen at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in Paris, the Sorbonne, and the Paris Panthéon, and at Poitiers, as well as at the Boston, Massachusetts Public Library in the United States.
His easel paintings also may be found in many American and European galleries. Some of these paintings are,
- Death and the Maiden
- The Dream
- The Poor Fisherman
- The Meditation
- Mary Magdalene at Saint Baume
- Saint Genoveva
- Young Girls at the Seaside
- Mad Woman at the Edge of the Sea
- Kneeling nude woman, viewed from back
Puvis de Chavannes was president and co-founder in 1890 of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (National Society of Fine Arts) founded in Paris. It became the dominant salon of art at the time and held exhibitions of contemporary art that was selected only by a jury composed of the officers of the Société.
Beginning in 1926, The Prix Puvis de Chavannes (Puvis de Chavannes prize) was awarded by the National Society of Fine Arts (Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts).