Léon Cogniet

Léon Cogniet (Aug 29, 1794 – Nov 20, 1880) was a French history and portrait painter. He is probably best remembered as a teacher, with over one hundred well-known students.

Born of Joseph Cogniet, a painter and painter, Marguerite Metuel, daughter of wealthy artisans, Léon Cogniet entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1812, where he was a pupil of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin who declared in A letter to Leon Cogniet: “Believe me that I have been your friend even more than your master.”

In Guérin’s studio, he meets Eugène Delacroix, Théodore Géricault, Jean Alaux and Ary Scheffer. He also attended the workshop of Jean-Victor Bertin. In 1814 he was a prize of perspective and in 1815 he won the Prix du Torso, which opened the doors to the competition for the Prix de Rome. He arrived there in 1815, painting Briseis crying Patrocle during the Hundred Days, and was awarded second prize. He returned the contest the following year. After a failure in 1816 with Oenone refusing to rescue the wounded Paris, his Helene delivered by Castor and Pollux earned him the prize of Rome in 1817. The same year, he began at the Salon. He is a boarder of the Académie de France in Rome from 1817 to 1822.

In 1818, according to Charles Blanc, Gericault deposited his canvas the Raft of the Medusa in the studio of Leon Cogniet: “when he had withdrawn it from the exhibition, having no workshop large enough to collect it Had painted him in the foyer of the Favart theater), he begged M. Leon Cogniet to take care of it, and to give him shelter in his studio in the Rue Grange-aux-Belles, asking him this as an insignificant favor.

Léon Cogniet realized at least two lithographs according to his elder Géricault.

Before leaving for Italy, he realized the portraits of his father, his mother and his sister Marie-Amélie and his self-portrait. He went to Rome with the sculptor Antoine-Martin Garnaud, the engraver Sylvestre Brun and the landscape painter Achille-Etna Michallon, whose portrait he painted. In Rome, Cogniet discovers and practices the landscape in the spirit of Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes. He meets François-Marius Granet. In accordance with the rules of the time, Leon Cogniet made a copy of an antique marble and sent to Paris a large picture of history: Marius on the Ruins of Carthage (1824, Museum of the Augustins of Toulouse) Salon with scenes of massacre of the Innocents (museum of the fine arts of Rennes). The two paintings of Leon Cogniet obtained a great success, the first is sold to the king and the second to the banker Laffitte.

Famous, Cogniet presents at the Salon of romantic canvases with surprising theme as in 1827, a Cleveland Museum of Art or, in 1828, literary with the Rebecca’s Abduction after Walter Scott (Wallace Collection, London). It also features Napoleonic war scenes, Military Scene, Spanish War or Military Scene, Russian campaign, or General Foy (1775-1825) in the Orthez battle on February 1814 (Museum of Fine Arts, Orleans, a popular political figure, deputy of the Somme who opposed constitutional reforms, and in 1827 he painted a series of paintings on the life of Saint-Etienne for the church of Saint-Nicolas-des-Champs in Paris. The Council of State its Numa Pompilius giving the laws to Rome (museum of Monbélliard).

In 1830, Cogniet entered the days of the Three Glorious who saw the seizure of power of Louis-Philippe. He painted the Flags (Royal Orléans Museum of Fine Arts) royalist flags covered with the blood of dead heroes for freedom, on the blue sky: (blue, white, red) hoisted on the towers of Notre-Dame de Paris but also Courage and Humanity which was presented at the Salon of 1831, next to the Liberty guiding the people of Eugène Delacroix. From that date, the two friends seem to separate, not visiting each other. He supports Poland invaded by Tsar Nicholas I. The new monarch Louis-Philippe 1st ordered four canvases (now missing) in Cogniet to decorate the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Then Cogniet painted The Expedition of Egypt under the orders of Bonaparte for one of the ceilings (6,35 × 10,29 m) of the palace of the Louvre between 1833-1835, canvas scarcely distinguish Napoleon surrounded by Scholars and artists in the shade of a tent. The canvas is a mixed success, as evidenced by the criticism of Paul Mantz, “Cogniet has narrowed the data; He translated it into prose; He made only one vignette, like a picture-book illustration. Vulgar and black characters are excavating in a café-au-lait ground: that’s all. ” In 1834, Cogniet received command of the National Guard of Paris by for the army in September 1792, for the castle of Versailles. In 1836, Cogniet received the order Les Saintes Femmes au tomb for the church of the Madeleine. In 1837, several canvases to illustrate the campaigns of the Directory. Cogniet was helped by his pupils Félix Philippoteaux and Karl Girardet, among others, in order to create his historical paintings. In 1840, he received a final order for Versailles, which he finally did not realize, and of which only sketches, Ruins, remained for the Siege of Antwerp (Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Orléans).

From 1843, exhibiting only rarely at the Salon, Léon Cogniet devoted himself mainly to the teaching of which he was one of the most important figures of the nineteenth century10. He was professor of drawing in Paris at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand from 1831 to 1876, where he was a pupil of Edgar Degas, 11 and at the Ecole Polytechnique from 1847 to 1861. In 1849 Léon Cogniet was elected and appointed a member of the ‘Institute. He was appointed professor of painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1851. He resigned in 1863 after having taught several generations of artists. “The Cogniet workshop is a kind of mutual school whose instructors are MM. Axelfeld, Barrias, Girardet, Brother, Hillemacher, Lecomte, Luminais, Richter, Rigo, Vignon, Villain, Rodakowski. We have counted in the halls of the exhibition up to one hundred and nine pupils of M. Cogniet, and certainly we have omitted several. […] Let us not forget, however, that she prides herself on M. Meissonier, the sublime child of the house. ” According to Ernest Vinet, in 1862, Léon Cogniet did not paint much: “Always more concerned with others than with himself, his great concern for years has been to open the way for young artists, to guide them , To sustain it with a persistence and a wisdom that can not be too much praised. ” He is as interested in painting as in sculpture and collects works by his pupils, such as Dominique Papety, Charles Octave Blanchard, Joseph-Fortuné-Séraphin Layraud, Eugène Ernest Hillemacher, François Chifflart and Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier , Jean-Paul Laurens, Leon Bonnat.

In 1831, his sister, Marie-Amélie Cogniet, who was her principal assistant, executed views of her brother’s large parisian studio at No. 9 rue de la Grange-aux-Belles (Orléans Museum of Fine Arts). Between 1840 and 1860 he opened a very busy female workshop, which he entrusted to his sister Marie-Amélie and then to another of his pupils, Catherine Caroline Thévenin (1813-1892), who became his wife in 1865.

Works of Léon Cogniet
Briséis crying Patroclus (1815) Museum of Fine Arts of Orleans. First attempt of Leon Cogniet for the prize of Rome.
The Artist in his studio at the Villa Medici in Rome (1817), Cleveland Museum of Art.
Scene of July 1830 or Les Flags (1830), Museum of Fine Arts of Orleans.
Jean-François Champollion (1831), Paris, museum of the Louvre.
The Expedition of Egypt under the orders of Bonaparte (1835-1836), Paris, musée du Louvre.
The National Guard of Paris left for the army, September 1792 (1836), Versailles, museum of the History of France.
Portrait of Maria Brignole-Sale of Ferrari (1856), Genoa, Palazzo Rosso.
Portrait of the future king Louis-Philippe in 1792 (1834), Versailles, museum of the History of France.