Study of a Head

Alphonse Legros, 1837 - 1911



Study of a Head

Alphonse Legros 1837 - 1911

Summary

This is a rapidly painted head study of an old man with white hair and a long white beard, wearing a dark jacket. He is depicted against a roughly indicated, neutral background and leans slightly to his right, looking downward. Alphonse Legros was a talented and meticulous draughtsman, etcher, painter and sculptor. He was born in Dijon in 1837 and may have trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts there. He worked for a while on decorative schemes for Lyon Cathedral and for a Parisian theatre company, before joining the studio of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1802-1897). In 1855 he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris and made his Salon debut in 1857 with a portrait of his father. He came to London in 1863, where he lived and worked until 1905, with intervals spent in a cottage at Brasted Chart in Kent (1899-1905); he then moved to Watford, where he died in 1911. He was naturalised as a British citizen in 1880. Much of his life in England was spent teaching and in 1876 he succeeded Edward John Poynter (1836-1919) as Professor at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London. Teaching at the Slade School was from its earliest days based on drawing from life models, following the French academic tradition. Legros, an expert himself, was an enthusiastic advocate of this practice. The timed head study was a speciality of his. He insisted that accurate drawing was the only sure means of capturing the essence of a subject. A great admirer of classical art, Legros promoted the traditional study trip to Italy as a key element of artistic training. This painting was presented by the artist to the Royal Manchester Institution (which became Manchester Art Gallery), either during or shortly after a masterclass that he held there for students of the Manchester School of Art on 14th September 1879.


Object Name

Study of a Head

Creators Name

Alphonse Legros

Date Created

1879

Dimensions

unframed: 58.3cm x 45.2cm
framed: 89.3cm x 77cm

accession number

1882.9

Place of creation

England

Support

canvas

Medium

oil paint

Credit

Transferred from the Royal Manchester Institution.

Legal

© Manchester Art Gallery


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