Study of a female Nude
  • Paul Albert Besnard
  • Paris 1849 - 1934
  • Study of a female Nude , 1878
  • Black chalk on blue paper, stray traces of watercolour,
    signed and dated with pencil upper right:
  • Besnard / Rome 1878
    stamp of the estate sale lower left
    with handwritten numbering: 170
  • 435 × 580 mm
Estate of the artist (Lugt 3440)
sale Ader Picard Tajan, Paris 1977
Kunsthandel Sabine Helms, Munich
private collection Munich

Besnard’s artistic career began in 1874 with his receipt of the Grand Prix de Rome along with a period of study at the Villa Medici, the French academy in Rome. From there he moved in 1879 to London, first settling in Paris again in 1883. At this time, Besnard already enjoyed an excellent reputation as a graphic artist and as the portraitist of a predominantly female clientele. Immediately after his return, he also obtained important commissions for the artistic decoration of various public buildings in Paris. Along with regular presentations of work in the capital’s salons, Besnard was honoured in 1905 with exhibition of his entire oeuvre in the Galerie G. Petit. In 1912, he returned to Rome for a few years as the director of the French academy, before succeeding Léon Bonnat as director of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

The study shown here, from the final year of his first stay in Rome, seduces it with its natural proportions and depiction of the model in space. Furthermore, we already recognize here Besnard’s sharp gift for observation and his much-praising talent for modelling the reflections of light.