Study of a Head

Alphonse Legros, 1837 - 1911

Study of a Head

Alphonse Legros 1837 - 1911


This unfinished oil sketch of a man wearing a white cravat was presented by the artist to the Royal Manchester Institution (which became Manchester Art Gallery), in conjunction with a masterclass that he held there for students of the Manchester School of Art on 14th September 1879. 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.

Object Name

Study of a Head

Creators Name

Alphonse Legros

Date Created



unframed: 61.1cm x 51cm
framed: 91.7cm x 82.2cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint


© Manchester Art Gallery

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