Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre

Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre

(pyĕr püvē` də shävän`), 1824–98, French mural painter, b. Lyons. In 1844 he went to Paris, where he studied under Delacroix and Couture. His painting War (Amiens), purchased by the state in 1861, established his reputation. From that time on he lived in Paris and painted mural decorations there and in other cities. Late in life he married his lifelong friend, Princess Marie Cantacuzène. They both died the following year. Although Puvis studied with the romanticists, his work is classical in inspiration. His chaste murals with their subdued color and allegorical figures are in the Hôtel de Ville, the Sorbonne, and the Panthéon, Paris, and in the Boston Public Library. His easel paintings can be found in many American and European galleries.

Puvis de Chavannes, Pierre

 

Born Dec. 14, 1824, in Lyon; died Oct. 24, 1898, in Paris. French painter.

Puvis de Chavannes studied in Paris with A. Scheffer and T. Couture. Under the influence of J. Ingres, T. Chassériau, and the masters of the Italian quattrocento, he devoted himself mainly to monumental decorative painting. His mature work, which combines classical and romantic elements, is a variant of symbolism yet in many ways anticipates the art nouveau style.

Puvis de Chavannes’s murals include scenes inspired by the artist’s conception of the golden age of antiquity and of the “pure” religiosity of the Middle Ages. The artist also painted allegorical scenes of the seasons, the trades, and the arts and sciences. His murals are noted for their balanced and static composition, strict linear rhythm, and soft chiaroscuro. There is a tendency toward two-dimensionality and the generalization of form. The figures are marked by a certain conventionality, and their grace and simple gestures are reminiscent of classicism. The artist’s palette consists of pearly, muted tones and attempts to achieve the tonality of a fresco.

Puvis de Chavannes’s principal works include the cycle The Story of St. Geneviève (1874–98, Paris Pantheon), Allegory of Arts and Sciences (1887–89, Sorbonne, Paris), and The Inspiring Muses Acclaiming Genius as Messenger of Light (1893–95, Boston Public Library).

REFERENCES

Tugendkhol’d, Ia. Puvis de Chavannes. St. Petersburg [no date].
Werth, L. Puvis de Chavannes. [Paris, 1926.]

T. I. VOLODINA

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