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 Charles (Marc-Charles) Gleyre  (1806 - 1874)



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Lived/Active: France/Switzerland      Known for: academic painting-mythoglogy subjects, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Cléonis et Cydippe
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A Swiss artist who painted in academic style, Charles Gleyre, whose full name was Marc Gabriel Charles Gleyre, was born in Chevilly, Vaud Canton in Switzerland. In 1843, he took over the studio of Paul Delaroche, and as a painter and teacher had a number of prominent students including Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

When he was a child, his parents died, and he was raised by an uncle in Lyon, France, where he was sent to a Lyon industrial school.   Then as a teen ager he went to Paris, studying art for four years.  This period was followed by four years in Italy in "meditative inactivity" and friendship with Horace Vernet and Louis-Leopold Robert.  Then he spent six years wandering in countries that included Greece, Egypt, Nubia and Syria.  At Cairo, he suffered ophthalmia, inflammation of the eye; and in Lebanon, he had a severe attack of fever. 

Feeling as though he had lost his health, he returned to Lyon, and after recovery, went back to Paris.  He set up a studio in the rue de Université, and "began carefully to work out the ideas which had been slowly shaping themselves in his mind." Painting decorative panels of the goddess Diana, leaving her bath, and of a young nubian, he did not receive any significant public attention.  However, "the painting by which he practically opened his artistic career was the Apocalyptic Vision of St John, sent to the Salon of 1840.

Subsequent paintings exhibited at the Paris Salon were Egyptian Temple (1840) and Evening (1843).  Although he was becoming successful through his exhibition works, he basically retired from public appearances.  In 1845, he submitted Separation of the Apostles to the Salon and in 1849, Dance of the Bacchantes, but he other than those entries did little aggressively to further his artistic reputation.

"He spent the rest of his life in quiet devotion to his artistic ideals, neither seeking the easy applause of the crowd, nor turning his art into a means of aggrandizement and wealth.  . . .Yet he laboured steadily and was productive."  In spite of keeping a low profile artistically, he had much influence on his pupils, and had a ready vehicle for teaching when Delaroche, when closing his studio, advised his pupils to study with Gleyre.  He refused to take any fees from these students.  However, he was an avid reader of political journals and follower of political events, and his studio, during the reign of Louis Philippe, became a gathering place for liberal thinking persons.

On a visit to Alsace and Lorraqine, he died suddenly on 5 May 1874.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition

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