Ernest Hébert

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Biography of Ernest Hébert ( 1817-1908 )

Born in 1817 in Grenoble, Ernest Hébert entered at the age of ten in the studio of Benjamin Rolland, a pupil of David. In Paris, he joined the studio of the sculptor David d'Angers, then Paul Delaroche. Becoming a lawyer in 1839, Hébert obtained the same year the Grand Prix of Rome of historic painting, which opened to him the doors of Villa Medici.  

Arriving at the Villa Medici in January 1840, he made excursions to Naples in the autumn 1842, where he copied the antiques to the museum ; and then in Florence in 1843 where he studied the masterpieces of the Renaissance. 

He returned to Paris in May 1848 and painted the "Malaria", a painting which offered him his first great success at the Salon of 1850. He returned to Italy in September 1853 and made two of his best works, "The Girls of Alvito" and "The Cervarolles". "The Girls of Alvito", as well as "Crescenza at the San Germano prison", received a first class medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1855.  

Living in Paris during eight years, he joined circles of artists. A friend of Princess Mathilde, the cousin of Napoleon III, he participated in her salons. He met many artists and writers (Taine, Renan, Flaubert, The Goncourt brothers, Sainte-Beuve, Dumas) and received many official commissions, including the imperial family.  

The portrait was perfectly mastered by Hébert who revealed with elegance the social status of his models. His numerous commissions gave him a great financial situation. Hébert almost exclusively painted women of high society in Paris.  

In 1867, he was appointed director of the Villa Medici. In 1872, he painted the "Virgin of the Deliverance", exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1889. In 1874, appointed member of the Institute, he returned to Paris, where he later assumed the function of professor at the Beaux-Arts.  

In December 1896, he was made Grand Officer of the Legion of honour. In 1900, on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition, he received the Grand Cross. 

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