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 Leon Joseph Florentin Bonnat  (1833 - 1922)

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Lived/Active: United States/France/Spain      Known for: portrait and history painting, teaching

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Leon Bonnat was known for his portrait painting and teaching, having been the Director beginning 1905 of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.  He was born in Bayonne, but from 1846 to 1853, he lived in Madrid, Spain, where his father owned a bookshop. In Madrid he received his artistic training under Madrazo.

He later worked in Paris, where he became known as a leading portraitist, never without a commission.  His many portraits show the influence of Velázquez, Ribera and other Spanish masters, as well as Titian and Van Dyke, whose works he studied in the Prado.  Following the period in Spain, Bonnat worked in Leon Cogniet's atelier (1854) then spent three years in the French Academy in Rome (1858-60).

He won a medal of honor in Paris in 1869, where he became one of the leading artists of his day. Bonnat went on to win the Grand Officer of the Légion d'honneur and became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1882.  Bonnat was quite popular with American students in Paris. He spoke several languages and knew English well, to the relief of many monolingual Americans.  In May 1905, he succeeded Paul Dubois as director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Bonnat "was a liberal teacher who stressed simplicity in art above high academic finish, as well as overall effect rather than detail," explains Julius Kaplan (see References)

Bonnat's vivid portrait-painting is his most characteristic work, but his history paintings, such as the Martyrdom of St Denis in the Pantheon, are also famous.  Bonnat was one of Édouard Manet's friends—both shared a love of Spanish painting, and he worked with Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. Bonnat founded a museum in his native city, donating his collection of old master drawings. The artist died in 1922.

Some of Bonnat's more notable students include: Gustave Caillebotte, Suzor-Coté, Georges Braque, Thomas Eakins, Raoul Dufy, Marius Vasselon, Fred Barnard, Aloysius O'Kelly, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Léon_Bonnat

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