Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret a genius of French painting


Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret a genius of French painting, who was absolutely not shy about using the possibilities of photography to write extremely realistic paintings

Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret (January 7, 1852 July 3, 1929) a famous French master painting of the late XIX early XX centuries, an outstanding representative of realism in European fine arts. Dagnan-Bouvray became famous for painting paintings of the genre, for which he received many prestigious awards at exhibitions and competitions. Among the skillful masterpieces of the painter’s work there are also portraits, allegories and works on religious themes. The master’s biography is full of numerous travels to different regions of France and countries of the world.

Pascal Dagnan-Bouvray, in addition to painting from a young age, was fond of photography. An ardent supporter of naturalism, he often used photographs of real people in his genre paintings, thanks to which he achieved outstanding results in his work and widespread public acceptance.

Dinner at Emmaus.
Dinner at Emmaus.


Pascal Dagnan was born on January 7, 1852 in the family of a capital tailor. When the future artist was 16 years old, the Head of the Family went to emigrate to South America, leaving his son in the care of his wife and father-in-law. To express gratitude to his grandfather for his upbringing, the young man, when receiving a passport, added his mother’s maiden name to his surname and from that time on officially became Pascal Dagnan-Bouvray.

Immediately after graduation, the young man was admitted to the National School of Arts, where he was originally mentored by the famous master of academism, Alexandre Cabanel. But after the first year, Pascal transferred to the workshop of Jean-Léon Gérôme, and under the guidance of this professor he completed his studies at the Academy of Painting and Sculpture.

Orpheus' pain.
Orpheus’ pain.

During his studies, Dagnan met and became friends with two classmates Jules Bastien-Lepage and Gustave Courtois. Both of them went on to become outstanding artists, but Jules died at the age of only 36. But Pascal maintained friendly relations with Gustave throughout his life and even became related to Courtois by marrying his cousin.

Comforter of the unfortunate.
Comforter of the unfortunate.

Since 1875, Pascal Dagnan-Bouvray has constantly participated in academic exhibitions and has repeatedly won prestigious awards for his work.

Having firmly decided to devote his life to the realistic direction in painting, immediately after graduating from the school of arts, the young artist and his wife left for the province, in the historical region of Frasch-Comte, located on the border with Switzerland. Here he enthusiastically took up painting pictures depicting the life of ordinary peasants and landscapes.

Returning to Paris in 1880, Pascal, along with his two best friends from the academy, rented a small workshop in the suburbs of the capital. But four years later, Bastien-Lepage died, after which only Dagnan-Bouvray and Courtois remained in the studio. Young artists spent a lot of time in the vicinity of Paris, making sketches for future paintings and dreamed of fame.

The bride and groom are with the photographer.
The bride and groom are with the photographer.

In 1885, Pascal first visited Brittany and fell dearly in love with this harsh region in the far west of France. Subsequently, he repeatedly came here with his wife to paint pictures away from the city noise, enjoying beautiful views and silence.

In 1888, on behalf of the French government, Dagnan-Bouvray went on a trip to North Africa.

He visited Morocco and Algeria, but the local nature did not make much impression on the painter. The result of the trip was the writing of a series of works devoted to the life of the Arabs, but these works were coolly received by critics and the public.

But genre paintings, describing the life of the inhabitants of their native province, enjoyed great success in Paris. At the international exhibition in 1889, Pascal was awarded an honorary award for “Forgiveness of sins in Brittany.” At the same time, the artist began to work in the portrait genre, and in it he also achieved significant success.

A woman from Brittany.
A woman from Brittany.

In the late 1890s early 1900s. in the career of the master, a period of enthusiasm for symbolism began. It was at this time that the artist created his most famous allegorical works, and also painted a number of paintings on religious themes. In October 1900, the authoritative painter was elected a member of the National Academy of Arts, and 14 years later he headed this prestigious institution.

Despite the general enthusiasm for modernism, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Dagnan-Bouvray firmly held the position of an authoritative and sought-after artist. Although the creative activity of the master gradually faded away, his new works were still in demand among the public. The painter’s calm and measured life was suddenly disrupted in 1918, when his only son Jean died during the Spanish flu epidemic.

The most famous paintings by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret

The brilliant master of French painting gave the world many unique masterpieces. And yet, some of the most famous paintings by Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret include:

  • “Accident” (1879) the work, which became the first notable success in the career of the author. For a painting depicting a scene from rural life, the artist received the highest award at the Paris Salon in 1880.
  • “Sulking Gustave Courtois in his studio” (1880) is a masterpiece of the painter filled with subtle humor. On it, he portrayed his best friend in a workshop in the company of a woman dressed in black.
  • Hamlet and the Gravediggers (1883) is a colorful artistic illustration for the immortal masterpiece of the great Shakespeare. The painting depicts the moment when the Danish prince prepared to deliver his famous monologue with a deep philosophical meaning.
  • Absolution in Brittany (1886) is one of the artist’s most recognizable realistic masterpieces. The faces of the characters participating in the strict religious rite radiate feelings of grief and deep remorse.
Bretons praying.
Bretons praying.

Pascal Dagnan-Bouvray was an outstanding realist painter in the history of European visual arts. And his works still attract millions of connoisseurs of beauty to museums, who want to join the world of harmony and beauty.

In the forest.
In the forest.
In the meadow.
In the stable.
In the stable.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Last Supper.
Last Supper, Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret In the stable
In the stable.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Breton women pray for forgiveness of sins
Breton women pray for forgiveness of sins.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Portrait of Childs Frick
Portrait of Childs Frick.
Woman from Bern, Switzerland
Woman from Bern, Switzerland.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Portrait of Gustave Courtois
Portrait of Gustave Courtois.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Prayer for forgiveness of sins in Brittany
Prayer for forgiveness of sins in Brittany.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret In the woods, 1892
In the woods, 1892.
Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret Portrait of a Breton girl
Portrait of a Breton girl.