top of page
portrait bonnat jeune catalogue.jpg

Léon Bonnat

Beyond Portraits

Author: Guy Saigne

Guy Saigne, HEC (67), doctor in art history

Doctoral thesis on Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), catalog raisonné of painted, drawn and engraved portraits, defended at Paris-Sorbonne University in 2015 and obtained with very honorable mention and unanimous congratulations from the jury.

Book "Léon Bonnat, the portrait painter of the Third Republic" awarded the Jacques de Fouchier Prize, Grand Prix of the French Academy in 2018

Acceuil: Quote
portrait bonnat jeune catalogue titre.jpg

Léon Bonnat

Au-delà des portraits

Author : Guy Saigne

The first volume of the catalog raisonné of the work of Léon Bonnat (1833-1922), entitled Le Portraitiste de la IIIe République, published in 2017 and crowned with the Jacques de Fouchier prize, grand prize of the French Academy in 2018, had for purpose of giving an account of the exceptional career of the artist in the particular genre of portraiture, in which he leaves us an extraordinary gallery of his contemporaries, men and women, French and foreign.

The second volume of the catalog raisonné, entitled Beyond Portraits, recounts and illustrates the path that led Bonnat to establish himself as the leading portrait painter of his time in 1875: his apprenticeship at the San Fernando Academy in Madrid, in the studio of Léon Cogniet in Paris, then at the French Academy in Rome, his great ambition and his first achievements immediately crowned with success in the great genre, religious painting and decorative compositions, and his brilliant participation in painting genre through his Italian and Orientalist scenes.

The personality of the young artist, his moments of doubt and his great ambition, his strength of character and his will are evoked at length in this volume from, in particular, the correspondence exchanged with his closest friend.

couverture livre.jpg

Léon Bonnat

Le portraitiste de la IIIe République

At the meeting point of history and art history, this book traces the career of Léon Bonnat and his exceptional success in portrait painting. First known for his large religious and decorative compositions, his Italian and Orientalist genre scenes, he remains the great portraitist of the presidents of the Third Republic, politicians, the aristocracy and the French and American upper middle class, but also many artists, men of letters and musicians. The work consists of an introductory essay which presents and analyzes the work of Léon Bonnat and a catalog raisonné, each notice of which reproduces the work, gives the technical characteristics, presents the biography of the model, describes the conditions of realization of the portrait and finally summarizes its critical fortune.


The author

Guy SAIGNE defended his doctoral thesis in art history from the University of Paris-Sorbonne on December 12, 2015: “Léon Bonnat (1833-1922) portrait painter. Catalog raisonné of painted, drawn and engraved portraits ”. The jury was made up of Ms. Chang Ming Peng, Professor of Art History at the University of Lille III, President of the Jury, Ms. Christine Peltre, Professor of Art History at the University of Strasbourg, Ms. Sophie Harent, Chief Heritage Curator and Director of the Bonnat-Helleu Museum in Bayonne, Mr. Philippe Boutry, Professor of History, President of the University Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I), and Mr. Barthélémy Jobert, Professor of History of art, President of the University of Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) and thesis director. The thesis obtained the very honorable mention and earned its author the congratulations of the jury unanimously, the highest award that the university can award.

In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.

This ten-year long work has been successfully completed thanks to the help of all those who, in France or abroad, spontaneously or in response to questions put to them, provided information on Léon Bonnat and on his work, opened up new avenues of research, gave access to certain contacts, transmitted information or documents, revealed the existence of paintings hitherto ignored. They have all contributed a piece of the immense puzzle of establishing a catalog raisonné. May they be warmly thanked.

“Léon Bonnat (1833-1922) portrait painter.

Catalog raisonné of painted, drawn and engraved portraits »

bottom of page