Alfred Émile Stevens

Alfred Émile Stevens

Biography of Alfred Émile Stevens ( 1823-1906 )

Alfred Steven is born in Brussels where he is trained by François-Joseph Navez, a pupil of Jacques-Louis David. He is active mainly in Paris where he settles down from 1844.

During the Exposition Universelle of 1855, his picture entitled " What we call wandering " draw the attention of Napoleon III and incites the emperor to revise the way his army mistreats the tramps by arresting them.

From 1860, Alfred Stevens abandons the historic themes and knows an enormous success by his young women's paintings dressed in the last fashion posing in elegant inside: his scenes of bourgeois inside move him closer to Henri Gervex. He is called the French Gérard Terborch, in homage to the talent of his illustrious elder to depict luxurious materials.

Alfred Stevens receives/p the Legion of Honour, after the Exposition Universelle in 1867. Stevens feels at ease as much in the imperial court of Napoleon III and in the high society as in the artistic and bohemian circles of the capital. He is a bosom friend of Manet and of his circle of relations: Degas, Morisot and Baudelaire., to whom he presents the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel.

Alfred Stevens influences James Whistler and shares his enthusiasm for the Japanese prints. Stevens also paints marine and coastal scenes in a more free, almost impressionistic style, close to Eugène Boudin or to Johan Barthold Jongkind. Towards the end of his life, his style is not without resemblance with that of his contemporary John Singer Sargent.
Alfred Stevens publishes in 1886 " Impressions sur la peinture" which knows a considerable success.

In 1900, Alfred Stevens becomes the first artist alive to obtain an individual exhibition at the School of Fine Arts of Paris, although he does not execute paintings any more since the 1890s, further to problems of health.
His paintings were very popular in America, in particular by Vanderbilt which bought some. Most of his production stayed however in France or in Belgium.

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