Historical Dictionary of the French Second Empire, 1852-1870

By William E. Echard | Go to book overview

C

CABANEL, ALEXANDRE ( 1823-1889), academic painter; born at Montpellier, 28 September 1823. Cabanel entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1840, having won a government award, exhibited in the Salon of 1844, and won the Prix de Rome, allowing him to go to Italy to continue his studies in 1845. His return to Paris was greeted with commissions, including twelve panels representing the months of the year for the Room of the Caryatids in the Hôtel de Ville (executed 1852-1853; destroyed in the Commune of 1871). He won a first- class medal at the Paris international exposition of 1855 for another work commissioned for the St. Louis chapel in the Château de Vincennes, Apotheosis of St. Louis. The remainder of the decade was spent completing further commissions for ceiling decorations for wealthy individuals (for example, The Five Senses, 1858, for the banker Emile Pereire), and painting portraits. Nymph Abducted by a Faun ( 1860, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lille) was shown in the Salon of 1861 and purchased by Napoleon III. It is carefully and painstakingly drawn in the classical manner yet presents as well sensuous overtones that verge on the erotic and result in insipid prettiness. This is even more evident in his Birth of Venus ( 1863; Louvre, Paris), which refers to Boucher's sensuous nudes of the eighteenth century and attempts to combine this with the classical tradition. It was the sensation of the Salon of 1863 and was purchased, again, by Napoleon III, who also had his portrait painted by Cabanel in 1865. The critic Jules Castagnary ( 1830-1888) denigrated it, along with, although to a lesser extent, similar nudes by the academic painters Paul Baudry and Eugène Amaury-Duval ( 1808-1885), for its poor color. Other critics, however, admired Venus's agreeable curves. While Cabanel aspired to serious subject matter and classically perfect form, the results he achieved were most often weak, the nudes banal, and the concept pretentious. Following his success in the Salon of 1863, he was promoted in the Legion of Honor ( 1864), and elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts ( 1863) in the place of Horace Vernet ( 1789-1863). In 1863-1864 both Cabanel and Jean Léon Gérôme were made professors at the reformed Ecole des Beaux-Arts and their ateliers were assimilated into the school. Cabanel's influence as a habitual member of the jury of the Salons, like that of other conservative artists such as Gérôme and William Bouguereau, prevented the more avant-garde artists such

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Historical Dictionary of the French Second Empire, 1852-1870
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Historical Dictionaries of French History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Contributors vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations of Journals in References xv
  • The Dictionary 1
  • A 3
  • B 27
  • C 67
  • D 161
  • E 205
  • F 220
  • G 253
  • H 280
  • I 298
  • J 320
  • K 324
  • L 325
  • M 370
  • N 423
  • O 439
  • P 459
  • Q 531
  • R 534
  • S 585
  • T 643
  • U 673
  • V 676
  • W 700
  • Z 707
  • Chronology of the French Second Empire 711
  • Index 777
  • About the Editor 831
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