Burnand, Eugène (1850-1921) by Scholes, Robert

Eugène Burnand (1850 – 1921) He was born in Moudon, Switzerland, and started out studying architecture in the Polytechnical High School in Zurich, but changed to painting and studied at the School of Fine Art in Geneva, moving on to the studio of Léon Gérôme in Paris in 1875. From the pages of the BCU, Lausanne, Switzerland: La figure humaine se place au coeur des préoccupations esthétiques et religieuses d’Eugène Burnand. Son art est régi par un naturalisme absolu. Mais pour lui il ne s’agit pas simplement de copier la réalité. Il faut la dépasser en la scrutant, en la sélectionnant, en l’épurant. Visages du petit peuple parisien, types provençaux, personnifications extraites de la Bible, types militaires nationaux trahissent une même fascination pour l’homme dans sa diversité ethnique, sociale et psychologique. Pour Eugène Burnand, le caractère de l’homme se marque dans ses traits physiques. Il doit ces convictions à la lecture de Lavater, auteur du célèbre Essai de Physiognomonie qui le confirme dans sa vocation de peintre alors qu’il a vingt ans, ouvrage qui va devenir le livre de chevet de celui qui fut l’un des artistes suisses les plus connus de sa génération, avant de devenir l’un des plus oubliés. Which we translate as: The human face holds the central place in the aesthetic and religious preoccupations of Eugène Burnand. His art is dominated by an absolute naturalism, but, for him, this does not mean simply copying reality but surpassing it by scrutinizing, selecting and purifying it. Faces of Parisian people, provincial types, personifications extracted from the Bible, national military types all reveal the same fascination with man in his ethnic, social, and psychological diversity. For Eugène Burnand, human character is revealed in psysical features. He owed this conviction to his reading of Lavater, author of the famous Essay on Physiognomy, which confirmed Burnand in his vocation as a painter when he was twenty years old and became the guidebook for this man who was sone of the best known Swiss artitsts of his generation before becoming one of the most forgotten.

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