19th Century French Realist painter Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton was born on 1 May, 1827, in Courrières, a small Pas-de-Calais village. After his mother died when he was only four, Breton was brought up by his father, (a land supervisor for a wealthy land owner), his maternal grandmother; and his uncle Boniface Breton; who all lived in the same house.
After showing an early talent with his art, Breton left home at the age of fifteen and headed for Ghent in 1843, where he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He spent some time in Antwerp copying the works of Flemish masters and then headed for Paris in 1847, to study at the École des Beaux-Arts, where he met and became friends with several Realist painters; and his early entries at the Paris Salon reflected their influence. In 1854, he returned to his home village of Courrières, where he settled and continued his art.
- Jules Breton was essentially a painter of rustic life in the French countryside. His respect for tradition, a love of the land, and for his native region, are evident in his paintings.
- Breton’s renderings of single peasant female figures in a landscape, posed against the setting sun, became popular and he often produced copies of his more popular works.
- Breton’s reputation grew after exhibiting at salons throughout the 1870s, through to the 1890s.
- In 1886, Breton was elected a member of the Institut de France and in 1889 was made commander of the Legion of Honor; and he became a foreign member of the Royal Academy of London, in 1899.
Breton also became a recognized writer. He published a volume of poems and several editions of prose relating to his life as an artist; and the lives of other artists he met. Breton died in Paris, on 5 July, 1906.
- Breton married Elodie de Vigne in 1858. She was the daughter of his first art teacher, Félix De Vigne who, impressed by his youthful talent, helped Breton on his successful artistic journey.
- The image above – La Femme a L’ombrelle: Baie de Douarnenez (1871) depicts Elodie, seated amongst the pines on the Bay of Douarnenez, Brittany where Breton and his family spent the summer months. “She likes the free, fresh wind in her hair, Life without care”…
Maybe, that’s why this lady has a gamp!
“Is It Art?”