About Jean-Jacques Henner
Bernwiller (Alsace) 1829 – 1905 Paris
Painter of nudes, portraits and religious subjects, who worked in a very personal realistic style, not linked with the major schools and artistic evolutions that occurred during his long career.
Pupil in Paris of the French painters Michel Martin Drolling and François-Edouard Picot.
In 1858 Henner won the First Price in the prestigious Prix de Rome, enabling him to stay and work for five years in Rome at the fabulous Villa Medicis. At a winner’s return from Rome the French government would buy some of the paintings painted there. This was the real start of his successful career.
Henner is noted for his use of sfumato and chiaroscuro, which he learned in Italy, and for his love of red-haired women, who very often appear in his paintings.
He is the author of two real icons of French painting:
- “L’Alsace, elle attend” is the portrait of a mourning young woman as the personification of the region where Henner was born, which France had just lost to the German Empire. This painting from 1871 got very popular through engravings.
- The idealized portrait in profile of Saint Fabiola, painted in 1885, but lost in 1912, of which numerous copies exist.
Between 1874 and 1889 Henner organised with the portrait painter Carolus-Duran the so-called “atelier des dames”, the ladies’ workshop. Women were indeed not allowed to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, so both artists taught them painting there. Some of these women became Henner’s models, others his mistresses.
In the 17th arrondissement of Paris there is a National Museum Jean-Jacques Henner, which is an absolute must for anyone who loves this artist.
Why should you buy this painting?
Because it is such a beautiful, mysterious portrait, painted in such a daring colours.