Alfred Stevens

Brussel·les 1823 - París 1906

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Born in Brussels in 1823, the Belgian painter Alfred Stevens settled in Paris since the 1840s. At the start of his professional career, he represented the misery of the times, in realistic compositions, with the objective of denouncing poverty in the cities. In 1855, his work Ce que l’on appelle vagabondage (What is called vagrancy), conserved today at the Musée d’Orsay, was distinguished at the Universal Exposition. He studied with Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres at the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts (National Grand School of Fine Arts) and became friends with Berthe Morisot and Edouard Manet, with whom he shared a common model, Victorine Meurent. In a second phase of his career, he dedicated his art to portray the contemporary woman, dressed in the latest fashion, posing in elegant interiors. He triumphed in the Universal Exposition of 1867 with these intimate and worldly scenes, exhibiting 18 canvases and receiving a gold medal. After a period marked by the influence of Japanese engravings, he focused on coastal and marine scenes, echoing impressionism. This creative phase corresponds to the painter having moved to Menton, a French town on the Mediterranean coast close to the Italian border. He created compositions in a free style, close to the work of Eugène Boudin or Johan Barthold Jongkind. In the decade of the 1890s he abandoned painting due to health problems. He was the first living artist to be dedicated a monographic exhibition in the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris (National Grand School of Fine Arts of Paris) in 1900.