Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map





(Between Romanticism and Expressionism)


Alphonse Osbert

(1857- 1939)


 Alphonse Osbert (1857-1939), french Symbolist.

Subsequent encounters with
Puvis de Chavannes, Seon  and Seurat led him to brighten his palette. At this time he also adopted the themes characteristic of Symbolism and became a specialist in the subject of lyre-bearing classical Muses contemplating landscapes bathed in the setting sun. He exhibited at the Rose+Croix Salons.





b Paris, 23 March 1857; d Paris, 11 Aug 1939.

French painter. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and in the studios of Henri Lehmann, Fernand Cormon and Léon Bonnat. His Salon entry in 1880, Portrait of M. O. (untraced), reflected his early attraction to the realist tradition of Spanish 17th-century painting. The impact of Impressionism encouraged him to lighten his palette and paint landscapes en plein air, such as In the Fields of Eragny (1888; Paris, Y. Osbert priv. col.). By the end of the 1880s he had cultivated the friendship of several Symbolist poets and the painter Puvis de Chavannes, which caused him to forsake his naturalistic approach and to adopt the aesthetic idealism of poetic painting. Abandoning subjects drawn from daily life, Osbert aimed to convey inner visions and developed a set of pictorial symbols. Inspired by Puvis, he simplified landscape forms, which served as backgrounds for static, isolated figures dissolved in mysterious light. A pointillist technique, borrowed from Seurat, a friend from Lehmann’s studio, dematerialized forms and added luminosity. However, Osbert eschewed the Divisionists’ full range of hues in his choice of blues, violets, yellows and silvery green. Osbert’s mysticism is seen in his large painting Vision (1892; Paris, Mus. d’Orsay). The Rosicrucian ideal of ‘art as the evocation of mystery, like prayer’ finds no better expression than the virginal figure of Faith—often interpreted as either St Geneviève or St Joan—set in a meadow with a lamb and enmeshed in an unearthly radiance. Such works were praised by Symbolist writers who considered them visual counterparts of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck. Osbert was called a ‘painter of evenings’, an ‘artist of the soul’ and a ‘poet of silence’ for his evocation of a mood of mystery and reverie.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris

Lyricism of the Forest

Lake in the Woods

Songs of the Night
Evening in Antiquity
Musee du Petit Palais, Paris

The Muse at Sunrise

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