Jules Joseph Lefebvre Biography
Jules-Joseph Lefebvre was born in Tournan (Siene-et-Marne) May 14, 1836 and died in Paris February 24, 1911. Lefebvre was considered an important genre and portrait painter from the French School.
Jules Joseph Lefebvre studied in the studio of Leon Cogniet from 1852 and competed at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1853 until he won the Prix de Rome in 1861. In Rome Lefebvre was influenced by Mannerism and especially by Andrea del Sarto, whose paintings Lefebvre copied. Lefebvre drew with precise draughtsmanship, used delicate colors and a lubricity in all of his paintings.
In 1866 Lefebvre experienced a severe depression caused by the death of his parents and one of his sisters, and by criticism of the last major painting Lefebvre painted in Rome. After these experiences Lefebvre turned from history painting to portraits and nudes; Lefebvre exhibited 72 portrait paintings in Salons between 1855 and 1898, but little is known about them since nearly all remain in private collections. Although Lefebvre occasionally finished large-scale, ambitious paintings, he made his reputation with nudes. Critics praised Lefebvre paintings and recognized its eroticism, yet there was no scandal as there had been with earlier artists. Lefebvre avoided the signs of contemporary social reality, prostitution or the model’s personality that characterized other artists’ paintings and focusedinstead on the woman’s beauty, stressing her passivity and availability.
Lefebvre was considered an Academic and a Classicist. In the 1870’s Lefebvre became a teacher at the Academie Julien (an atelier that trained women artists as well as men over a decade before they were also permitted into L’École des Beaux Arts). There Lefebvre became the most admired and sought after teacher of American ex-patriots, who came to Paris to study. Among Lefebvre's most famous American students, were Child Hassam and Frank Benson.