EMILE-ANTOINE BAYARD ~ Joyous Celebration

This important genre artist was born on November 2, 1837, in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, France, and died in Cairo in 1891.  Emile Bayard received his formal art training from 1853 through 1857 under Léon Cogniet (1794-1880), a French history and portrait painter and Professor at the École des Beaux-arts.  He also published humoristic drawings in various magazines, mostly under the pseudonym “Abel de Miray.” Starting in 1857, he worked mainly on charcoal drawings, paintings and water colors and achieved his first success with woodcuts of Fortune Louis Méaulle and B. Smeeton, engravings of A. Lamotte, and color lithographies of Champenois.   It was circa 1860 when Bayard was producing the most important examples of his work which can be seen in this very fine example.

From 1864, Emile Antoine Bayard worked primarily for the magazines “Journal pour rire” and “L’Illustration” and also produced drawings of current events for other journals such as “Journal des Voyages” and “Les Bibliothèque des Merveilles.” The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71 figures prominently in these documentary drawings and lithographs.  Noteworthy examples include the charcoal “Sedan” from 1870, “Commandant Franchetti,” which was exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1873, as well as the triptych “Gloria,” “Victis,” and “Après la bataille de Waterloo,” which was acquired by the French government in 1874.

At the end of the 19th century Bayard moved to illustrating novels, notably Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  Bayard was Victor Hugo’s favorite illustrator, famous in his own lifetime for his brilliant portraits of Fantine, Eponine, Valjean and Javert, but best known today by people all over the world for his illustration of Cosette, now famous as the Les Misérables logo. Other famous novels illustrated by Bayard include Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, L’Immortel by Alphonse Daudet, and From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne.Bayard’s artwork accompanying From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne is considered among the first Space Art of a scientific nature.

Emile Antoine Bayard is renowned for his genre and decorative paintings, including his decoration of the foyer of the Théâter du Palais Royale, where he immortalized the most important actors of the theater in portraits.

This highly important example of his work depicts an 18th century jubilant festivity outside the church following the christening of a child, surrounded by family, friends, the joyous mother next to the chamber maid who is holding the baby up while a cheerful crowd celebrates the happy occasion. A man sitting on the church wall throws candy to joyous children below.  Bayard’s canvases are scenes full of life and of panache, costumes preening with grace. On viewing this beautifully composed picture, one is aware of this artist’s sense of beauty combined with a great artistry for figures.  It is typical of the best of his work in its influence, conception and execution.  Above all, one is aware of how exquisitely detailed his paintings are.

Bayard exhibited from 1853 to 1861, including at the Paris Salon from 1873.  Examples of his work may be seen in museums in Pontoise, Rouen, Saintes, Saint-Etienne, France; National Trust Collections, England; Fitzwilliam Museum, England; Musuem Rotterdam; and The Getty Museum, U.S.A.

This marvellous example of Bayard’s work is presented in pristine condition in an original period frame and is signed and dated by the artist. Paintings of this caliber are extremely rare today.

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1837 – 1891

Title: “Joyous Celebration”

Date: 1863

Size:  Height 49 1/2”    Width 61 1/2”  (framed)