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Alphonse Legros


Alphonse Legros (May 8, 1837 - December 8, 1911), painter and etcher, was born in Dijon. his father was an accountant, and came from the neighbouring village of Veronnes.

Young Legros frequently visited the farms of his relatives, and the peasants and landscapes of that part of France are the subjects of many of his pictures and etchings. He was sent to the art school at Dijon with a view to qualifying for a trade, and was apprenticed to Maître Nicolardo, house decorator and painter of images. In 1851 Legros left for Paris to take another situation; but passing through Lyon he worked for six months as journeyman wall-painter under the decorator Beuchot, who was painting the chapel of Cardinal Bonald in the cathedral.

In Paris he studied with Cambon, scene-painter and decorator of theatres, an experience which developed a breadth of touct such as Stallfield and Cox picked up in similar circumstances, At this time he attended the drawing-school of Lecoq de Boisbaudran. In 1855 Legros attended the evening classes of the École des Beaux Arts, and perhaps gained there his love of drawing from the antique, some of the results of which may be seen in the Print Room of the British Museum.

He sent two portraits to the Paris Salon of 1857: one was rejected, and formed part of the exhibition of protest organized by Bonvin in his studio; the other, which was accepted, was a profile portrait of his father. This work was presented to the museum at Tours by the artist when his friend Cazin was curator. Champfleury saw the work in the Salon, and sought out the artist to enlist him in the small army of so-called "Realists," comprising (round the noisy glory of Courbet) all those who raised protest against the academical trifles of the degenerate Romantics.

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