Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier, Lyons 1815 - 1891 Paris
Ernest Meissonier was one of the renowned and successful artists of his generation in France, winning many medals at the Paris salons and commanding extraordinarily high prices for his military subjects and historical genre scenes. Meissonier trained briefly with Jules Potier, and then in the studio of Léon Cogniet. His exquisite genre scenes often set in a romanticized past are characterized by meticulously rendered costumes and accessories, inspired in particular by Dutch and Flemish masters of the seventeenth century such as Gabriel Metsu and Gerard ter Borch. Meissonier also developed a range of military subjects in his paintings, producing both small panels depicting individual guards and cavalrymen and monumental canvases and murals celebrating heroic military campaigns but also sometimes capturing the horrors of conflict. From 1840 Meissonier’s paintings received effusive reviews from critics such as Théophile Gautier, while prominent members of the Rothschild and Pereire families, Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquis of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Auguste, Duc de Morny, and Napoleon III, as well as wealthy Americans like A. T. Stewart, William Vanderbilt, and William T. Walters, vied to purchase his works for their collections.