Antoine Berjon (French, 1754-1843), A Pink Rose
Antoine Berjon (French, 1754-1843)
A Pink Rose
Watercolor on paper
Signed ‘AB 1809’ lower right
Paper size: 11 ¾ x 8
Arguably the most significant flower painter in France in the first half of the 19th century, Antoine Berjon, worked mainly in his native Lyon. He was the founder and leading exponent of the Lyon school of flower painters, a particular specialty that traced its origins to the 18th-century silk manufactories in the city. Berjon spent his early career as a fabric designer in the Lyonnais silk industry. However, by 1791 he had made his debut at the Paris Salon, exhibiting three floral still life and a pastel drawing of fruit and flowers.
Berjon lived in Paris between 1793 and 1810, working as a still life and portrait painter, but in 1810 returned to Lyon. There he was appointed a professor of floral design and painting at the recently founded École des Beaux-Arts, established by Napoleon in 1807 ‘to give tuition to artists whose talents will be devoted mainly to the silk industry.’ He continued to send still life paintings to the Salons in Paris until 1819, and also exhibited occasionally in Lyon. Berjon resigned from his post at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon in 1823, though he continued to teach privately. He spent the last two decades of his life as something of a recluse and produced a large number of drawings, only a few of which sold. A few years after his death, Grobon Frères in Lyon reproduced several of his pictures of flowers as a suite of twenty-six lithographs. Significant groups of drawings by Berjon are today in the collections of both the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Musée Historique des Tissus in Lyon.
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