French painter Alexandre-Denis-Abel de Pujol or Abel de Pujol was born on 30 January, 1785 in Valenciennes, France. The illegitimate son and only child of the nobleman Alexandre-Denis-Joseph Mortry de Pujol, Baron de la Grave, (a powerful figure who served as advisor to the King, and was the founder of the Académie de Peinture et Sculpture in Valenciennes). Abel de Pujol studied there from the age of twelve, before completing his training in the studio of Jacques-Louis David in Paris.
De Pujol also took classes in anatomy, perspective, and architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He won a first-class medal at the Académie in 1806, and a second-class medal, at the Salon of 1810, and the same year, came second in the Prix de Rome competition. The following year, De Pujol won the Prix de Rome. His Death of Britannicus won gold medals, from both Louis XVIII, and Napoleon, in 1814, while a grisaille painting of The Preaching and Martyrdom of Saint Stephen, intended for the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, was equally admired at the Salon of 1817, winning the prize for history painting.
- De Pujol received a number of important official commissions, including three paintings for Versailles; and a ceiling painting for the Palais Royal.
- A large allegorical ceiling painting of The Renaissance of the Arts, for the grand staircase of the Louvre, which was sadly destroyed in 1855.
- Mural decorations for public buildings, such as the main hall of the Bourse, the Musée Charles X of the Palais du Louvre, the Galerie de Diane at Fontainebleau; and the Palais de Luxembourg.
- Altarpieces and designs for stained-glass windows for several Parisian churches, including Saint-Sulpice, Notre-Dame-de-Bonne-Nouvelle, Saint-Roch, Saint-Denis-du-Saint-Sacrement, Saint-Thomas d’Acquin and the Madeleine. He also worked in the cathedral at Arras and the church of Saint-Pierre, in Douai.
- In 1846, De Pujol was commissioned to paint a monumental canvas of Valenciennes, and in 1852, painted the ceiling of the staircase of the Ecole des Mines, at the Hôtel de Vendôme in Paris; which was to be one of his last major decorative schemes.
Admitted into the Legion of Honour, in 1822 and the Académie des Beaux-Arts, in 1835, De Pujol produced a handful of portraits, mainly of family and friends. He has shown all that he possesses; the science of the nude, the talent for modelling, the art of drapery; and, in confining himself to painting this vast decoration in monochrome, he has shown himself to be a ‘man of spirit.’ De Pujol died in Paris, on 29 September, 1861.
- The largest extant collection of De Puljol’s drawings, amounting to almost 150 sheets, is in the collection of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes.
“Is It Art?”