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Ernest Ange Duez

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Ernest Ange Duez

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Biography of Ernest Ange Duez ( 1843-1896 )

Ernest-Ange Duez was born in Paris on March 8, 1843. In his early twenties, when others had already begun their official artistic training, Duez had agreed with his family 's decision to do business in a silk house. He worked for three years until, at the age of twenty-seven, he decided to pursue a career as an artist. His training began in the Parisian ateliers of Isidore-Alexandre-Augustin Pils, a well-known Realist painter, and of the portraitist Carolus-Duran.
 
After absorbing the methods of both of his teachers, Duez debuted at the Salon of 1868,with Mater Dolorosa. While this training gave him experience in the general manners of the École des Beaux-Arts, after several long years of painting and studying in detail, he became a follower of Édouard Manet and showed tendencies towards adherence to Impressionists principles.

Duez really only established himself after he advocated the way of painting pursued by Manet. One of his earliest paintings, “The Honeymoon”(1873),   depicting two lovers in modern dress walking through a sunlit, caused a scandal at the Salon. Early in his career, Duez began with a style of naturalism, “…he attacks modernity of which he will rapidly become one of the most sincere translators. He simply paints, the people that he meets each day, placing them in their appropriate milieu…”  
 At the Salon of 1874, he exhibited Splendeur et Misère (Splendor and Misery) for which he was given a third-class medal.  

Having found success, Duez became intrigued by landscapes and he moved to Villerville, between Trouville and Honfleur in Normandy.
He was so taken by the effervescence of the light and atmosphere of that region, that around 1878,  he built a glass studio along the seashore, so that he could continue painting during the winter months when he could not go outside.
In this new studio he attempted one of his most famous works, Saint Cuthbert, “one of the most remarkable pages of modern painting” , a large triptych that was later purchased by the state and placed in the Luxembourg Museum after its exhibit at the Salon of 1879.
Contemporary audiences were shocked by the use of a modern day landscape setting, one that was based on Villerville where he was working.

Much of his work from this point on is based on scenes at the beach, with young women holding their parasols, enjoying the scene, or children playing near the water. Duez was just one of many artists who had come to the Normandy beaches, “…it is still the resort of painters. Year after year Guillemet and Duez, Butin, Dantan,  (...) find here a perennial source of inspiration. Sketching-umbrellas begin to dot the beach,(...)”
 
During this period he was also maintaining his ties with the Parisian Salons, of which he was to serve as a jury member eight times; he was also involved in  the administration of the Société des Artistes Français, along with other successful artists such as William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Alexandre Cabanel, Jean-Paul Laurens, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Jules Bastien-Lepage, among several others.
More important for the art of exhibition in late nineteenth century France was his involvement in the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, a counter-faction against the Société des Artistes Français which would hold its own exhibitions that eventually led to the demise of the annual Académie des Beaux-Arts Salon. Earlier in his career Duez showed his pro-activeness and interest in furthering the career of artists working outside of the strictly academic tradition, when in 1879 he signed a petition requesting a reorganization of the Salon.
 
Duez also executed several commissions during his career, including decorative panels entitled Virgil Seeking Inspiration from the Woods (1888) for the Sorbonne and Botany and Physics (1892) for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. He also created a number of textile designs, devoting his time to the applied arts.
 
Ernest-Ange Duez met an unfortunate and early death while biking in the Forest of Saint-Germain. He died on April 5th, 1896, aged 53.
His work, which had begun on a rather academic note, progressed into his own form of Impressionism, based on the prevailing sense of artistic freedom sought after by many artists of the avant-garde.
In addition to becoming a leading artist of the late nineteenth century, he was a strong advocate for the advancement of artistic styles outside of the Salon system, furthering the avant-garde move towards an art that was free of the staid principles advocated by the École des Beaux-Arts.
In his own work, he was a devotee of the Normandy coast, and can be loosely associated with the Impressionist group, though his execution differs somewhat in style.

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