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Emile-René Ménard

 

The lost world of antiquity is the subject of many of Emile-René Ménard’s (1862–1930) works. Numerous other artists of his day shared this interest in Classical imagery. In Ménard’s case contemporary influences merged with early memories from the home of his youth, which was often visited by Camille Corot, Jean-François Millet and other painters of the Barbizon school seeking subjects in the idyllic local scenery.

Born in Paris, Ménard was the son of the landscape painter René-Joseph Ménard and nephew of the philosopher and writer Louis Ménard. He trained in the studios of William-Adolphe Bouguereau and, from 1880, at the Académie Julian. In his earlier landscapes he combined the classical tendencies of the academic artists Pierre Henri de Valenciennes and Jean-Victor Bertin with the more poetic approach of work by Jean-François Millet and Camille Corot.

Around 1898 he travelled to the great classical sites of the Mediterranean and was inspired to move in a new direction, producing large, visionary arcadian scenes. Profoundly inspired by the mural schemes of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, he painted frescoes for the Library of the École des Hautes Etudes at the Sorbonne and for the École des Droits. He later moved to Varengeville near Dieppe and spent much of his final years at Les Lecques in Provence, where he created vivid twilight scenes and pastoral visions of great intensity.