An Idle Afternoon with the ‘Parisian of Philadelphia’

Julius L Stewart | An idle afternoon 84 53x100cmAn Idle Afternoon (1884)

American artist Julius LeBlanc Stewart, was born on September 6, 1855, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, the sugar millionaire William Hood Stewart, moved the family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Paris in 1865, and became a distinguished art collector and an early patron of Marià Fortuny and the Barbizon artists. Julius Stewart studied art at the École des Beaux-Arts, and was later a pupil of Raymondo de Madrazo.

  • A contemporary of fellow expatriate artist John Singer Sargent, Stewart was nicknamed ‘The Parisian from Philadelphia’. Stewart exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1878 into the early 20th century, and helped organise the “Americans in Paris” section of the 1894 Salon.

Stewart’s family wealth enabled him to live a lush expatriate life; and paint what he pleased, often large-scaled group portraits. Many of these depicted his family and friends, including actresses, celebrities and aristocrats; often with a self-portrait, somewhere in the crowd. He painted a series of sailing pictures aboard James Gordon Bennett, Jr.’s yacht Namouna. The most accomplished of these, On the Yacht “Namouna”, Venice (Wadsworth Atheneum, 1890), depicts a sailing party, including the actress Lillie Langtry, on its deck. Another, Yachting on the Mediterranean (1896), set a record price for his works, selling for US$2.3 million, in 2005.

  • Although in his latter life, Stewart turned to religious subjects, he is best remembered for his Belle Époque society portraits and sensuous nudes. Julius Stewart died on January 4, 1919, in Paris, France.

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