Meissonier, Jean-Louis-Ernest (1815-1891) by Scholes, Robert

Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815 – 1891) He was born at Lyons but was taken to Paris at an early age. A family friend introduced him to the much frequented studio of Leon Cogniet, where he began his professional career. For many years Meissonier had to earn his living by illustrating novels from an earlier time. During this period he studied Dutch painting and learned to work in very minute detail. Then, in 1859 Meissonier was commissioned to paint the (now in the Louvre). This was the beginning of a new series of works, which date from the Second Empire, and in which the artist undertook to celebrate the glories of the first Empire. Renouncing his small interiors and subjects of fantasy he tackled historical and open air subjects, movements of crowds and armies, and set himself the task of painting the great scenes of the imperial epoch. He became enormously popular and was frequently the object of scorn for his fellow artists, who were working with newer materials in newer modes of painting, especially those we recognize as “modernist.” Battle of Solferino

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