From the life of Parisians: Pictures of the French realist Firment-Girard, who admired Repin and Kramskoy
France has always been a center of art and culture. Therefore, innovative artists at all times sought to Paris in search of fame and recognition. One of them, Francois-Marie Firmen-Girard, is a terrific realist, a virtuoso of painting and a subtle psychologist who, during his lifetime, conquered the hearts of not only the public, but also well-known fellow artists. Ivan Kramskoy himself and Ilya Repin were shocked by the talent of the Frenchman and spoke with admiration about his work. Although, as you know, the true praise to the master to wait from colleagues is very difficult.
Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard (Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard, 1838 – 1921) worked in the genre of historical painting, landscape, portrait. But, above all, he was an excellent genre painter who created a magnificent gallery of paintings devoted to the life of the French. And, curiously, he, living in the capital, often turned to the images of villagers, which clearly affected his origin.
And Firmen-Girard was born in 1838 in France in a border village adjacent to Switzerland. The primeval nature of that land was so diverse and unique in its beauty that it could not leave the future artist indifferent. On the set of his works are executed excellent landscapes, with something resembling the locality from which the artist was born.
The boy, having an artistic gift, from early childhood drew a lot. And at the age of sixteen he leaves his home to attend the School of Fine Arts in Paris. His teachers were the Swiss, who adhered to traditional trends in art, and then the Frenchman, Jean-Leon Gerome, the master of historical painting, which also left a deep imprint on the work of the future artist.
Historically, in the late 1850s, in all spheres of life in France, new ideas began to be welcomed and introduced, including in painting. Young realist artists began to show great interest in the daily life of the French people. Work began to come out from under their brushes, reflecting both life and life, both rich and poor, both urban and rural residents of France.
The trend of that time had a great influence on the work of Firmen-Girard. The picture with which he debuted in 1859 at the Paris Salon brought the first recognition to the young master. A couple of years later, he took second place and a prestigious Rome Prize. Bonus funds were enough to organize their own workshop in Montmartre. Soon the artist became famous and rich. The interest of customers in the work of the painter was great throughout his long creative career. Of these, almost every year for 30 years he exhibited at the Salon, where he was awarded medals and honored with positive feedback from not only the public, but also critics.
About the last years of the painter’s life almost nothing is known. He preferred a quiet life in the village, although his paintings were still in demand and sold well in the capital. There he died at the age of 83.
Russian painters, who lived at the same time with Firmen-Girard, appreciated his work. So, still very young Ilya Repin, living in Paris, visited the Salon exhibitions, and had the opportunity to see the works of the French artist with his own eyes. Later he recalled: “… At the zenith of his fame, Firm-Gerard was elegant, virtuoso and unusually subtle and deep in technology … And we had no idea that art could go further than this and not really be able to do something even better . “