Alexandre Cabanel

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Alexandre Cabanel
Self Portrait (Alexandre Cabanel).jpg
Born(1823-09-28)28 September 1823
Montpellier, France
Died23 January 1889(1889-01-23) (aged 65)
Paris, France
EducationFrançois-Édouard Picot
Known forPainting
Notable workBirth of Venus
AwardsPrix de Rome
Cabanel, Alexandre 1823-1889 deWP Signature.jpg

Alexandre Cabanel (French: [kabanɛl]; 28 September 1823 – 23 January 1889) was a French painter. He painted historical, classical and religious subjects in the academic style.[1] He was also well known as a portrait painter. According to Diccionario Enciclopedico Salvat, Cabanel is the best representative of L'art pompier, and was Napoleon III's preferred painter.[2]


Cabanel entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the age of seventeen, and studied with François-Édouard Picot. He exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1844, and won the Prix de Rome scholarship in 1845 at the age of 22.[3] Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute in 1863. He was appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1864 and taught there until his death.[4]

He was closely connected to the Paris Salon: "He was elected regularly to the Salon jury and his pupils could be counted by the hundred at the Salons. Through them, Cabanel did more than any other artist of his generation to form the character of belle époque French painting".[5] His refusal together with William-Adolphe Bouguereau to allow the impressionist painter Édouard Manet and many other painters to exhibit their work in the Salon of 1863 led to the establishment of the Salon des Refusés by the French government. Cabanel won the Grande Médaille d'Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867, and 1878.

A successful academic painter, his 1863 painting The Birth of Venus is one of the best-known examples of 19th-century academic painting. The picture was bought by the emperor Napoleon III; there is also a smaller replica (painted in 1875 for a banker, John Wolf) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was given to them by Wolf in 1893. The composition embodies ideals of Academic art: mythological subject, graceful modeling, silky brushwork, and perfected form. This style was perennially popular with collectors, even as it was challenged by artists seeking a more personal interpretation of truth to nature, such as Courbet.


Portrait of Victor Massé (1847).
Alexandre Cabanel, ca.1865. Photograph by Charles Reutlinger (?).
Cabanel's workshop at the School of Fine Arts., 1883, painting by Tancrède Bastet, Museum of Grenoble.

His pupils included:

Selected works[edit]



  1. ^ Kidd, Rebecca (2019). Alexandre Cabanel's St. Monica in a Landscape: A Departure from Iconographic Traditions (Thesis).
  2. ^ Diccionario Enciclopedico Salvat, 1982, Barcelona
  3. ^ Facos, Michelle (2011). An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Art. New York: Routledge. p. 282.
  4. ^ van Hook, Bailey (1996). Angels of Art: Women and Art in American Society, 1876-1914. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 28.
  5. ^ Dictionary of Art (1996) vol. 5, pp. 341–344
  6. ^ Mary Leiter (1887), Derbyshire, England, Kedleston Hall; National Trust for Places of Historic Interest, U. K."?".[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]