Etienne Adolphe Piot Biography
Étienne-Adolphe Piot was born in Digoin, France, often mistaken for Dijon as both cities are located in the Bourgogne region of Eastern France. Piot's birthdate is unknown. What writings are available on Piot, however few, note that he was born in 1850. These accounts may confuse his first Salon entry with his birth date, which, therefore, should be placed somewhere within the 1820s.
Before his start at the Salon in 1850, Piot came to Paris and began studying under Léon Cogniet. Clarence Clark explains further that “Piot came to Paris with the rest of the ambitious ones, and found out Cogniet, the good teacher who, besides winning a sterling reputation for himself, helped so many young artists to a career.”
At the Salon of 1850, when he began exhibiting his oil paintings, Piot showed Portrait de l’Auteur; dessin (Portrait of the Artist; drawing). In the years before 1876 Piot exhibited paintings under the name Adolphe Piot, though after 1876 he went by Adolphe, Adolphe-Étienne, and Étienne-Adolphe Piot. For the first nineteen years of his public career, Piot exhibited mainly female portrait paintings of his specific patrons at the Salons. It was not until the 1870 Salon that Piot began to exhibit oil paintings outside of portraiture.
Throughout his entire Salon period Piot remained a pupil of Léon Cogniet. In 1883 Piot became a member of the Société des Artistes Français, and later became a Membre Perpétuel (life-time member). Piot also received an honorable mention in 1890 for his painting submitted to the 1889 Exposition Universelle.
It is not known when Piot died, though his last Salon entry is most likely 1909. Either Piot died at a very old age, or he began his Salon career at a very young age. The length of his Salon entries is exhausting and creates a sense of mystery. Some intriguing questions remain to be answered. Was Étienne-Adolphe the son of Adolphe Piot? Was he exhibiting similar paintings and working under the same master? Any oil paintings pre-1876 would be attributed to Adolphe Piot, and those after 1890 can be attributed to Étienne-Adolphe Piot, if they are indeed two separate artists. The interim period is questionable as the artists, or artists, never exhibited together at one Salon, suggesting that it is, as history says, one artist, instead of two. But this sense of confusion in the names of the painter, and the possibility that he had a son who worked with him or who continued his style of creativity, awaits further clarification.
Regardless of these issues, oil paintings linked to the name of Adolphe Piot subscribe to the portrayal of the fashionable creation of childlike innocence, both in his youthful sitters and females alike. In this, even when depicting the lower classes, Piot infused his paintings with a sense of elegant humanity and picturesque refinement that appealed to bourgeois Aesthetic taste which was in the ascendancy during this part of the nineteenth century.