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Bastien-Lepage, Jules (French, 1848-1884)

French painter, was born in the village of Damvillers, Meuse, France, on the 1st of November 1848 and spent his childhood there. He first studied at Verdun, and prompted by a love of art went in 1867 to Paris, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-arts, working under Cabanel.

He first studied at Verdun, and prompted by a love of art went in 1867 to Paris, he was admitted to the École des Beaux-arts, working under Cabanel. After exhibiting in the Salons of 1870 and 1872 works which attracted no attention, in 1874 he made his mark with his Song of Spring, a study of rural life, representing a peasant girl sitting on a knoll looking down on a village. His Portrait of my Grandfather, exhibited in the same year, was not less remarkable for its artless simplicity and received a third-class medal.

This success was confirmed in 1875 by the First Communion, a picture of a little girl minutely worked up as to color, and a Portrait of M. Hayern. In 1875 he took the second Prix de Rome with his Angels appearing to the Shepherds, exhibited again in 1878. His next endeavour to win the Grand Prix de Rome in 1876 with Priam at the Feet of Achilles was again unsuccessful (it is in the Lille gallery), and the painter determined to return to country life. To the Salon of 1877 he sent a full-length Portrait of Lady L. and My Parents; and in 1878 a Portrait of M. Theuriet and The Hayfield. The last picture, now in the Luxembourg, is regarded as a typical work from its stamp of realistic truth.
Thenceforth Bastien-Lepage was recognized in France as the leader of a school, and his Portrait of Mlle Sarah Bernhardt (1879), painted in a light key, won him the cross of the Legion of Honour. In 1880 he exhibited a small portrait of M. Andrieux and Joan Of Arc listening to the Voices; and in the same year, at the Royal Academy, the little portrait of the Prince of Wales. In 1881 he painted The Beggar and the Portrait Of Albert Wolf; in 1882 Le Père Jacques; in 1885 Love in a Village, in which we find some trace of Gustave Courbet's influence. His last dated work is The Forge (1884).

The artist, long ailing, had tried in vain to re-establish his health in Algiers. He died in Paris on December 10, 1884, when planning a new series of rural subjects.

Among his more important works, may also be mentioned the portrait of Mme J. Drouet (1883); Gambetta on his death-bed, and some landscapes; The Vintage (1880), and The Thames at London (1882). The Little Chimney-Sweep was never finished. An exhibition of his collected works was opened in March and April 1885. A museum is devoted to him at Montmédy.

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