Edmond Francois Aman Jean
After studying classics with the Jesuits, Aman Jean studied art with Georges Seurat under the sculptor Justin Lequien. In 1878, he and Seurat began studying under Henri Lehmann at the École des Beaux-Arts. It was during the fourth exhibition of the Impressionists in 1879 that Aman-Jean, Seurat and Ernest Laurent realised their common interest in Impressionism and decided to leave the École. Seurat painted a portrait of his friend, which is a moving testimony to the intensity of their youth. Just after leaving the École des Beaux-Arts, Aman-Jean briefly experimented with the Divisionism of Seurat before moving back to a “flatter” technique to complete an increasing number of large commissioned pieces. At the 1881 Salon, he met Puvis de Chavannes and assisted him in his famous “Bois Sacré” now in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. He was critically well received in the 1883 Salon and in 1885 was awarded a grant to travel to Rome where he joined Ernest Laurent and Henri Martin. He attended Stéphane Mallarmé’s Cercle des Mardis and was asked to participate in the Salon de la Rose-Croix in 1892 and 1893. After finding the Salon des Artistes Français too reactionary, he started exhibiting regularly at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He became a member in 1893 and president of the painting section in 1914. He was awarded the silver medal in 1889, the gold medal in Exposition Universelle of 1900 after which he became Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur (and in 1933 he became a Commandeur de la Légion d’honneur and also later an Officier de l’ordre de Léopold de Belgique). In 1899, he started exhibiting at the Société des Pastellistes de France and founded the Société Nouvelle de Peintres et Sculpteurs, which exhibited for 14 years at the Galerie Georges Petit. Around 1900, he participated in exhibitions as far afield as Muchen, Holland, Belgium, England, Vienna and Italy. From 1902, he was often invited to travel to America, for commissioned portraits of society figures and for mural decoration. He exhibited at the Carnegie International in Pittsburg until 1914 and was also a member of the jury. He organised an exhibition of French Art which toured Buffalo, Saint Louis and Pittsburg in 1911-1912. In 1912, he participated in the new Salon de la Triennale, together with famous artists like Renoir and Maurice Denis. Like Bonnard, he developed an intimist charm in his paintings, which surprised his circle but which is more appreciated today. He enjoyed depicting female figures in a dreamy and melancholic atmosphere as can be seen in such works as La confidente, L’attente and La femme au paon. This was in keeping with the trend of the time of painting figure pictures with a certain psychological depth. Aman-Jean had a great interest in sensitive yet sensual depictions of the female form. In 1913, he became the curator of the Musée de Chateau-Thierry. In 1913, he published a successful study on Velasquez. In 1936, the Salon des Tuileries (a salon he co-founded) organised a very large tribute exhibition. Since his death, his paintings have often been included in retrospective of the artistic period he inhabited and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs organised a retrospective of his work in 1970. Patrick-Gilles wrote a book on Aman-Jean and described him as “le peintre de la femme”, although he did paint some landscapes and still life’s. Fundamentally however, it was in pictures like ours that he was most able to concentrate on his objective of defining in perceptive way the nature of beauty through the female form. ncisco to name but a few.