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Alexandre Cabanel

Alexandre Cabanel

The preferred painter of the French courts, Cabanel (1823–1889) was renowned for his skillful paintings of historical, classical and religious subjects. He was closely connected with the Paris salons which showcased the best academic art, where he was a highly influential figure as a regularly elected juror and instructor to hundreds of students.

Loyal to realistic rendering, he and others in the French academy famously fought against the new Impressionist movement which instead favored broken brushstrokes and emphasized perceived experience. Cabanel fought throughout his career resisting the ideals of Impressionism, leading to the establishment of Salon des Refusés exhibiting artwork rejected by the jury. While at first this salon was a venue to ridicule artists, it would come to legitimize the emerging avant-garde and shift towards Impressionism in painting.