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François Bonvin - French Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - François Bonvin (1817 - 1887)

Francois Bonvin began studying art at the age of eleven and painted his first known work while working as a clerk for the Paris police department. He was inspired by the Dutch paintings that he studied at the Louvre, especially those of Pieter de Hooch, and imitated their quiet, intimate feel in his own still life and genre scenes. Through his relationship with Gustave Courbet, Bonvin became a leader in the Realist movement. He supported the artists of the movement such as half-brother Leon Bonvin, James McNeill Whistler, and Henri Fatin-Latour, giving them money, supplies, and exhibiting their work in his atelier. Later in his career, Bonvin traveled in the Netherlands and London before settling in a small French village to continue painting his small genre scenes. His paintings were well received by critics and by the public. Although his work had elements in common with Courbet's, his modestly scaled paintings were not seen as revolutionary. He was awarded the Légion d'honneur in 1870. His subjects were still life and the everyday activities of common people, painted in a style that is reminiscent of Pieter de Hooch and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. It is the latter who is especially recalled by Bonvin's delicate luminosity. In 1881 he underwent an operation which did not restore him to health, and he became blind. A retrospective exhibition of his work was held in 1886. He died at Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1887.

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