Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sarah Bernhardt (1876)

Georges Jules Victor Clairin: Sarah Bernhardt

Born in Paris in 1843, Georges Clairin received his artist education at the École des Beaux-Arts under the tutelage of Isidore Pils and François Edouard Picot beginning in 1861. He accompanied Henri Regnault on his travels throughout Spain and Morocco, and went to Italy with François Flameng and Jean Léon Gérôme. During his stay in Morocco, Clairin met the Catalan artist Mariano Fortuny and together they visited Tetuan. In 1895, Clairin traveled to Egypt with the composer Camille Saint-Saëns. Clairin was awarded the Silver Medal at the Exposition universelle in 1889 and was made an officer of the Legion of Honor in 1897.

Clairin is best known for his portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, with whom he had an enduring friendship, and he painted her in a number of roles, such as the Queen in Ruys Blas (1879), Melisande in La Princesse lointain (1895 and 1899), Cleopatra (1900) Theodora (1902 and Saint Teresa of Avila. In addition to these stage portraits, Clairin painted her several times in more intimate surroundings. His 1876 portrait of the famous actress made the artist's reputation and was very well received at the Salon of that year. 'Le portrait de Madame Sara Bernhardt est assurément une des oeuvres les plus saillantes du Salon, tant par l'originalit de la composition que par la splendeur du coloris.' [The portrait of Madame Sarah Bernhardt is certainly one of the most prominent works of the show, both by the originality of the composition by the splendor of colors.] (Théodore Véron, Le salon de 1876: mémorial de l'art et des artistes de mon temps, Poitiers, 1876). [Christie’s]

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