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Pimen Orlov: As an apprentice, the painter became a student of Briullov and one of the best European portrait painters
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The personal drama of the French artist Emile Mounier, which inspired him to paint children’s portraits

There are not so many painters in the world history of art who dedicated their work to children’s portraits. For, in order to capture the lovely naughty and immediate children, the artist requires an immense sense of patience and love for them. These qualities were abound with the French artist of the mid-19th century – Emile Mounier, who was considered the best painter of his time, who devoted himself entirely to this genre. And his attitude to his barefoot heroes, causing delight and affection from the public – not at all banal sentimentalism, but the personal drama of the artist.

So in life it turned out that being the son of workers who worked in the factory for the production of tapestries, Emile Mounier was forced to follow in the footsteps of his parents. But the dreams of a gifted young man were completely different profession. So, while working in manufacturing, he began to attend courses in drawing, painting, anatomy and chemistry. And Emil was especially fascinated by academic painting, namely the work of his contemporary – William Adolf Bouguereau. The young man became a great admirer of the master’s work, whose name throughout the 19th century stood at the first step in the history of French art.

So, working in a factory and studying in the evenings, Emil became the entree to the home of the painting professor Abel Lucas, where he met his daughter Henrietta. And soon the young artist, without a memory of falling in love, took the girl for a wife. However, the happiness of the young couple turned out to be fleeting – a few weeks after giving birth, Henrietta dies from the illness, leaving the newborn son in her husband’s arms. A heavy burden fell on the shoulders of Emil, the loss of a loved one. And he devoted his whole life to his firstborn, Henri, who looked so much like his mother and served as a living reminder of her.

It is Henri in his childhood years will be the main model for the paintings of his father. With him, he will write many images of cute barefoot kids, which to this day affect the living of the modern viewer.

After the death of Henrietta, Emil leaves the factory. And fully immersed in creativity, begins to give painting lessons in courses for beginners. Once Mune was lucky to meet his idol and inspirer – William Bouguereau, and he invited a talented aspiring artist to his disciples. And over time, a strong friendship developed between the artists.

And by the age of 29, Mounier became a popular artist of the capital, the owner of three medals de Beaux-Arts, successfully exhibited in the Paris salon. The artist’s contemporaries were often called “the most inspirational singer of France’s barefoot,” as if hinting at his passion for plot portraits of cute barefoot children, cute kittens, dogs, and goats.

So until the end of his life, the artist wrote subject canvases – touching and gentle, radiating warmth and kindness with images of toddlers and teenagers, girls and young mothers. He regretted his whole life that he could not feel the minutes of happy motherhood by his wife, and his only son was deprived of maternal affection.

The work of Emile Mounier was highly valued, even during his lifetime, many European connoisseurs of painting were interested in him, but most of his works were acquired and exported to America by the collector Chapman. Currently these canvases are kept in the New Orleans Museum of Art.

In continuation of the theme of the story of the French artist salon academism Adolf Bouguero – mentor, teacher and close friend of Emile Mounier.

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