Hippolyte Lazerges

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Biography of Hippolyte Lazerges ( 1817-1887 )

Key figure of the Algerian orientalist School, Hippolyte Lazerges leaves Narbonne at the age of thirteen to settles in Alger with his father. The artist soon emerges as a talented draughtsman with a keen sight. In 1838 Lazerges has to come back in France as a conscript, but soon after his enlistment, he is discharged and regardless his father will, settles in Paris. He attends the studio of sculptor David d'Angers  and turns out to be a good pupil with great artistic skills. He then joins the François Buchot's studio and completes his education. He sends for the first time in 1840 and during his training years, a portrait to the Salon of French Art.

Lazerges is somewhat sensitive and frail and naturally favours religious subjects that unearths his full talent. As his family hardly supports him, the young artist paints State's commission to survive: "Stabat Mater” for the Sorbonne in Paris and "Jesus in Limbo" at the Cathedral of Narbonne. At that time, Lazerges exclusively send works dealing with religious themes to the Salon until his carrier takes a different turn in 1861 when he first exhibits orientalist paintings: "Kabyles harvesting in the Mitidja Plain" and "The Aissawa Dance". These works coincide with his final come back in Algeria due to health issues.

The artist is true Algeria lover for he is exalted by its vast lands expanses and its powerful colours. His paintings depict mainly Alger and its streets, its inhabitants and the Moorish landscapes surrounding the city. Between 1876 and 1886, he will suggest several works depicting everyday life in Alger to the Salon. An authentic and moving painting is exhibited for the first time in 1879, "The dervish of the Mohammad Cherif café". This work is accurate and allows the spectator to open the doors of dreams and remote worlds.

Lazerges becomes an important figure of the local artistic  world and is soon reckoned as the Alger school orientalism founder in the 19th century, alongside Joseph Sintés et Alfred Chataud.Many Lazerges works are held in French Museums as well as in the National Museum of Fine Arts in Alger. He produces numerous lithographs and among them "The Arab Prisoner" published in the Artists journal in 1846. Alexandre Dumas son commissions him an illustration for his book The Clemenceau Case (1866).As a skilled and experienced artist, he writes booklets dealing with the School of Fine Arts in Paris and with the Official exhibitions, and even composes his owns melodies.

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