Alphonse Osbert 

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Biography of Alphonse Osbert  ( 1857-1939 )

Alphonse Osbert was a French painter who was of the symbolist movement. After an academic teaching at the Fine Arts School in Henri Lehmann’s class, where he met Georges Seurat and Edmond Aman-Jean, Alphonse Osbert began a classical career, influenced by Léon Bonnat, Fernand Cormon and also Spanish masters.

He took part of the Salon of French Artists from 1880 with naturalist and post-Barbizon style paintings. The artist agreed with this aesthetic canons and didn’t seem to be interested in the Salon of the Independent founded by his friend Seurat. However, after he brief stay in Spain and some studies in the Fontainebleau forest, his style began to change and knew a turning point at the end of the 1880’s.

At this time, he did advanced experiences on light and its effects on color. He drew closer to the independents, met Maurice Denis and above all Pierre Puvis de Chavannes. This one encouraged him to head for a more decorative painting. That is how he developped from 1887 the idealist and decorative style that characterizes his pictorial expression. His painting became more and more monumental, in the wake of Puvis de Chavanne and achieved great success among the world of art.

His aesthetic canons were so close to the one recommended by Joséphin Peladan that Osbert took part of the Salons of the Rose-Croix founded by Peladan in 1892.

He frequented the symbolist poet Stéphane Malarmé. The critique liked him and he was also supported by the newspaper La Plume. That helped him to become one of the main symbolist painter of his time.

His style didn’t change a lot after the years 1900’s, but his success was already well gained. Supported by the state, he received important public orders, of whom the decoration af the large hall of Vichy’s spa in 1904, two mural paintings tilted « The Source » and « The Bath » that revealed the influence of Puvis de Chavanne. Between 1911 and 1913, he worked for the setting room of the city hall of Bourg-la-Reine.

Alphonse Osbert exhibited his sublime works in France and abroad. Light, allegory and reverie have a great importance in his paintings and chiaroscuro is never faraway. In his idyllic landscapes, contemplative figures stand out against the blue of the evening called "Osbert blue".

Today, the Orsay Museum has in its collection 414 paintings and drawings and three pastels given by Osbert’s daughter in 1992.

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