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Charles Amable Lenoir (French, 1861-1903)


A leading French academic artist often likened to his mentor, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Charles Amable Lenoir promoted an idealized vision of female beauty in his paintings of religious, mythological, allegorical, and genre subjects. As the son of working-class parents from La Rochelle, Lenoir first pursued a teaching vocation in order to save money for art school; in 1883, he finally entered the École des Beaux-Arts and, under Bouguereau's tutelage, won the highly competitive Second Grand Prix de Rome twice, once in 1889 for Jesus et le paralytique, and again in 1890 for Le reniement de Saint Pierre. No doubt, it was Lenoir's mastery of the academic values of accurate drawing and smooth paint surfaces, as well as his emphasis on the erotic female nude, that contributed to his rapid ascent at the École.

Lenoir won numerous awards during his career, including medals at the 1892, 1896, and 1900 Paris Salons, as well as the prestigious Légion d'honneur in 1903. His paintings can be viewed in museums throughout France, notably the Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Rochelle; Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, Rochefort; École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Angers.

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