Jody Klotz Fine Art

Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier

(French, 1815–1891)

the philosopher by jean louis ernest meissonier

Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier

The Philosopher, 1878




A well-listed painter, draftsman, watercolorist, sculptor and engraver, Ernest Meissonier was best known for his historical paintings, portraits and genre scenes.
At a young age, he entered the studio of Léon Cogniet (1794 – 1880) and made his debut at the Salon in 1834. He furthered his art training in Rome as was customary in these days, and upon his return, participated in the annual Salons, obtaining a third class medal in 1840, a second class medal in 1841, a first class medal in both 1843 and 1848, and the grand medal of honor in 1855 with Brawl. This work was bought by French Emperor Napoleon III as a gift to Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, on the occasion of their visit to France.
Meissonier’s great historical canvases which brought him such international acclaim, especially in the United States, were created after 1859, the year the artist followed the Italian campaign as part of the general army staff.
In recognition of his contributions to the art world, Meissonier was awarded the prestigious legion d’honneur in 1849, and was invited to become a member of famous Institut de France in 1861.
In 1889, Meissonier was elected present of the Jury International des Beaux Arts.
Admired by the academic critics as well as by the public, Meissonier enjoyed a worldwide reputation during his own lifetime. He exercised a lasting influence on American painter Harry Wilson Watrous (1857 – 1892), and taught numerous artists, including Georges Bretegnier (1860 – 1892), Maurice Courant (1847 – 1902), Enrique Mélìda y Alinari (1838 – 1892), Francesco Vinea (1845 – 1902) and Edouard Detaille (1848 – 1912).
He also illustrated Léon Curmer’s 1838 edition of Paul et Virginie, Léon Curmer’s 1840 edition of Les Français Peints par Eux-mêmes, Encyclopédie Morale du 19ième Siècle [The French Painted by Themselves, a Moral Encyclopedia of the 19th Century], and Count Louis de Chevigné’s (1793 – 1876) Contes Rémois [Tales from Rheims], published in 1858 by Michel Lévy in Paris.
Meissonier’s works are part of numerous museum collections, including in France, the museums of Bayonne, Bordeaux, Chantilly, Grenoble, Lemberg, Lille, Lyon, Nice, Rheims, Rouen, Valenciennes, Versailles, and in Paris at both the Musée du Quai d’Orsay and the Louvre, with close to fifty holdings. Outside of France, his works are part of the collections of the Antwerp and Brussels Fine Arts Museums in Belgium; the Amsterdam Stedelijke Museum in Holland; the Wallace Collection in London and the Cardiff Museum of Fine arts in the United Kingdom; the Dallas Museum of Art, the Buffalo Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Boston Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in the United States; Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery Museum in Russia; the Melbourne National Gallery in Australia; the Cape Town National Gallery in South Africa and the Munich and Hamburg Museums in Germany.