Biography of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes


    14th December: Pierre Puvis de Chavannes born at 13 rue des Deux Angles, Lyon. Son of Marie-Julien-César-Joseph Puvis de Chavannes, a mining chief-ingeneer, and Marguerite Guyot de Pravieux. The Puvis family was originaly Burgudian. Pierre was the youngest of four: two sons and two daughters.


    Death of Puvis’ mother.

    Le Revermont, au sud de la Bourgogne.
    Le Revermont, au sud de la Bourgogne. Paysage bien connu du peintre.

    Prepared Rhethoric and Philosophy at the Lycée Henri IV, Paris.

    Death of Puvis’ father
    The older Puvis had hoped his son would go to the Ecole Polytechnique, but illness prevented this.

    First trip in Italy. Upon return, recommended to Henri Scheffer who accepted to give advice.

    Summer at Mâcon where several times he meets the poet Lamartine.

    Le Revermont, au sud de la Bourgogne.
    Portrait of Lamartine, ca 1850
    Ink on paper,
    Top right: Three verses from "Poetic Meditations" by Lamartine.
    Signed P. Puvis in the center; France, private collection


    Second trip to Italy. He went to Rome, Venice, Naples, most of Italy. He saw the Piero della Francescas at Arrezo, and the bolognese masters. At year-end, enters Delacroix’s studio: he stays only about two weeks. Enters Couture’s studio, where he stays three months.


    Makes a first appearance at the Salon des Artistes Français, with Dead Christ. Paints Negro Boy, The Reading Lesson, and Portrait of a Man (private collections). Paints Diogène, Head of a Woman, Portrait of Edouard Puvis de Chavannes (his brother), Portrait of Miss de Vaugelas, Portrait of Marc-Antoine Puvis de Chavannes (private collections), Portrait of a Woman, Portrait of Thomas-Alfred Jones (Orsay Museum).


    Submitted Jean Cavalier playing the Luther Chorale for his dying mother, (Lyon, Fine Arts Museum), which is refused. From 1852 to 1859, he made annual submission to the Salon, all of which were refused. 15th July : moves into 11 place Pigalle. He would stay there until 1897 when he married Marie Cantacuzène.

    Atelier Place Pigalle
    Pierre Puvis de Chavannes ‘ studio - 11, place Pigalle - Paris
    Mademoiselle de Sombreuil buvant un verre de sang pour sauver son père.

    Decorative paintings for the dining room of his brother’s castle.


    Meets Marie Cantacuzène through Chassériau. Painted The Fisherman, Christ Appearing to Saint Paul in jail (Bourbon-Lancy) and Salome ordering the execution of John the Baptist (Rotterdam).


    Painted Self-Portrait (Paris, Petit Palais), The Village Firemen (Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersbourg), The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastien, Augustus’s daughter Julia returning to the palace (private collections), and Meditation (lost).

    Portrait of Alphonse Puvis de Chavannes, and Christ before the Praetorial Court (Private collection). .

    Exhibits, at the Salon: Concordia, Bellum (Amiens, Musée de Picardie).
    Wins second class medal.
    The french governement buys Concordia.

    Etches The Martyrdom of Saint Sébastien (Private collection) and Return from the Hunt (Marseilles’ Museum).

    Exhibits at the Salon Work and Repose (Amiens, Picardie Museum). .


    Exhibits at the Salon Autumn (Lyon, Fine Arts Museum)

    Sketch for L’ Automne (or Torse de Femme), ca 1864
    Oil on canvas, 65 x 54,5 cm. France, private collection

    Exhibits at the Salon Ave Picardia Nutrix and others compositions for the Museum of Amiens.

    Exhibits, at the Universal Exhibition: War, Peace, Work and Repose, replicas of the paintings at Amiens (USA).
    Salon: Sleep (Lille, Fine Arts Museum).
    Named Knight of the Legion of Honour.
    Paints Vigilance (Orsay Museum).

    Salon: Gambling(lost).
    Acquires a new studio at Neuilly

    Salon: Massilia, greek colony, and Marseille, Gateway of the Orient (Marseille, Palais Longchamp) .

    Salon: The Beheading of John the Baptist (Birmimgham, Barber Institute), and The Magdelene in the Desert (Franckfort, Staeldelshes Kunstinstitute).
    Serves in National Guard with the artistes Manet, Tissot, Bracquemont and Carolus-Durand.
    Paints The Ballon (Orsay Museum).

    March: Takes refuge at Versailles with his sister and brother-in-law, A.E. Jordan, deputy in the National Assembly. Paints The Carrier Pigeon (Orsay Museum), Autumn.

    Salon: Hope, (Death and the Maidens (Williamstown, S and F. Clark Art Institute) was refused).
    Paints a second version of Hope.

    Hope. 1872. Paris, Orsay Museum
    Salon: Summer.

    Salon: Charles over the Saracens, done for the décor at Poitiers City Hall and, in the drawings and cartoons section, Radegonde in the Convent of Sainte-Croix.

    Salon: Radegonde in the Convent of Sainte-Croix and Family of Fishermen.


    Salon: Sainte Genevieve as a Child at Prayer, commissioned by the Ministry of Public Education and Fine Arts for the Church of Sainte Genevieve, and, in the drawings and cartoons section, Sainte Genevieve, a three-part cartoon, for a work commissioned for the Panthéon.

    Officer of the Legion of Honour.

    Frieze is set in place in the Panthéon.

    Member of the Salon admissions and awards jury.
    Exhibits: The Prodigal Son and Young Girls by the Sea.

    Jeunes femmes au bord de la mer.
    Young Girls by the Sea. 1879. Paris, Orsay Museum.
    Member of the Salon jury.
    Exhibits: Young Picardians Practising the Spear Throw, cartoon for the painting which, under the title Pro Patria Ludus, would be part of the décor for the Amiens museum.
    Commissioned to do Pro Patria Ludus.
    Suzanne Valadon begins to pose for him.

    Paints Ludus pro Patria(Amiens' Museum), Doux Pays for his friend Léon Bonnat, Portrait of Eugène Bénon.
    Exhibits The poor Fisherman.

    Le Pauvre Pêcheur
    The poor Fisherman. 1881. Paris, Orsay Museum.

    Paints Le Rêve (Orsay Museum), Orphée (France, private collection), Femme à sa Toilette (Orsay Museum),
    Portrait of Mrs Cantacuzène.

    Paints Le Bois Sacré, Vision Antique, L'inspiration Chrétienne, Le Rhône et La Saône, all compositions for the Lyon's Museum.

    Vision Antique
    Vision Antique. 1885. Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
    Paint's Tamaris, Le Berger, a self-portrait.

    Exhibits thirteen paintings at The National Academy of Design, New York.
    One-man exhibition at Durand-Ruel, Paris
    Paints Family of Fishermen, a Self-Portrait and Madwoman by the Sea.

    La Folle au bord de la mer
    Madwoman by the Sea. c. 1887. St Petersburg, Ermitage Museum
    Member of the jury for the Salon des Artistes Français.
    Castagnary buys The poor Fisherman for the Louvre.
    Paints The Spinner.

    Besnard, Roll, Gervex, Braquemont, G. Petit, R. Ballu, Armand, Dayot, Carolus-Durand, C.
    Jacobson, A. Proust, Magne
    Ch. Garnier, Vve Klein, L. Gérome, Fusen
    Cazin, Cormon, Lish, L. Bonnat, Roty, Pasteur, Puvis de Chavannes, Falguières, Barrias, Chaplin
    X, P. Dubois
    Berlin. Le Comité d'exposition des Beaux-Arts.
    Copenhague - 1888. Cliché Gesellshaft.
    Paints Inter Artes et Naturam. Member of the jury for the Salon des Artistes Français.
    Member of the jury for the Exposition Centennale de l'Art Français.
    Exhibits there : Autumn, The Beheading of John the Baptist, The Prodigal Son and Young Girls by the Sea.
    7 August: official unveiling of La Sorbonne. Commander of the Legion of Honour.

    With Meissonier and Rodin founds the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and is named vice- chairman.

    Named chairman of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, replacing Meissonier.

    Summer. 1891. Cleveland, Museum of Art

    Exhibits, at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts :The decorative Ensemble Intended for the Prefectural Stairway of Paris City Hall.
    15 February-15 March: takes part in the first Salon of "La Libre Esthétique" (Brussels) with The Prodigal Son and Orpheus.
    November: exhibits six paintings at Durand-Ruel, Paris.
    15-31 December: one-man exhibition of 23 paintings in New York, organized by Durand-Ruel.

    15 January: banquet at the Hôtel Continental to celebrate Puvis's seventieth birthday.
    Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts: Pannel Intended for the Stairway of the Boston Public Library.

    Salon: Virgil, Aeschylus, Homer, History and Astronomy (Boston Public Library).
    September: exhibits, at Durand-Ruel, Paris : Chemistry, Philosophy and Physics (Boston Public Library).
    Falls ill and is cared for by Marie Cantacuzène.
    Paints In the Heather (Art Institute of Chicago, Winter (National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia), and The Poet.

    La Madeleine
    Magdalen, c. 1896, Budapest, Szépmuvészeti Muzeum
    Marie Cantacuzène
    Marie Cantacuzène, charcoal, 1896, Collection particulière

    January: another accident.
    Exhibits, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Pannel Intended for the Panthéon: Sainte Genevieve Keeping Watch over Sleeping Paris.
    29 August: Marie Cantacuzène dies.
    24 October: Puvis dies.
    27 October: after a religious ceremony at Saint-François de Sales, Puvis is burried at Neuilly Cemetery.