Birth name Pierre Puvis de Chavannes
Born 14 December 1824, Lyon, France
Died 24 October 1898, Paris, France
Movement Post-Impressionism, Symbolism
His career as an artist was inspired by a visit to Italy. After seeking the advice of Delacroix, he settled in Paris in the place Pigalle in 1852 and worked independently. The State, after repeatedly rebuffing him, purchased La Paix and commissioned several paintings for Amiens Museum. He concentrated on hastily painted figures with uncouth movements, closely integrating them with landscape. The Childhood of Saint Genevieve (1876) dis-armed the critics. He decorated the Sorbonne (1884), the Hotel de Ville (1889- 1893) and the Pantheon. He profoundly influenced both the Nabis and Degas. Maurice Denis acclaimed his decoration of the Sorbonne and Maillol copied The Poor Fisherman. Puvis de Chavannes gave expression to the ideas which preoccupied the 1885 generation. His art was, in fact, " symbolic" and the Symbolist critics revered him as a precursor (Decollation de Saint Jean-Baptiste, 1870). One might almost call him an academic Gauguin, for in following the pure Idea he abstracted himself from nature. His classical temperament demanded from Greco Roman culture that it detach him from actuality and serve as a springboard to assist his soaring vision. Rather than seeking to recreate Antiquity, he sought to liberate the poetic power it affords to the imagination. He brought back the primitive
two-dimensional concept and returned to the profile figure without perspective. His gift for murals and his outstanding decorative ability are unquestionable.
Post-Impressionism, Michel-Claude Jalard, Edito Service SA, Geneva