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Léon J. F. Bonnat (French, 1834-1922)

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Directory: Archives: Fine Art: Paintings: Oil: Pre 1920: Item # 149837

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524 North Washington Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314

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Portrait of a Seated Woman in Black

Léon Joseph Florentin Bonnat
(French, 1834-1922)

Oil on canvas, signed with initials “L.B.”.

A highly respected and successful painter, Bonnat established the Musée Bonnat in his birthplace of Bayonne. This museum remains one of France’s finest provincial galleries.

Bonnat began his artistic training at the royal academy of art in Madrid at the age of 13. He continued to study in Spain until the death of his father in 1853. At that time, he and his family returned to Paris where he resumed his studies at the École des Beaux-Arts. His most influential teachers were Léon Cogniet, Eugéne Delacroix and Madrazo y Kuntz.

He began exhibiting at age 23, and while his style evolved during his lifetime, he maintained a devoted following of critics and patrons. During the 1860s, his work included religious, historical and genre scenes in addition to portraiture. He was named to the Legion of Honor in 1867 and two years later won the gold medal at the Paris Salon. The cities of Paris and Bayonne and the French emperor and empress, were among the many patrons who commissioned or purchased his work.

By the 1870s Bonnat had turned exclusively to portrait painting which brought him ongoing acclaim and great wealth. In addition to painting, he ran a well-attended atelier and eventually was invited into the ranks of the Académie and École des Beaux-Arts. Toulouse-Lautrec, Braque and Thomas Eakins were among his many pupils.

His works are held in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, CA.

Bonnat is listed Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs, et Graveurs by Bénézit.

Painting size: 34.75” x 26.25”
Frame size: 44.5” x 36.5”