Two Louis Janmot works for the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon

1. Louis Janmot (1814-1892)
Self-portrait, 1832
Oil on canvas - 81 x 65.5 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

26/12/10 – Acquisitions – Lyon, Musee des Beaux-Arts – In 2007, the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon presented an exhibition entitled Le temps de la peinture, highlighting 19th century painting in Lyon (see article in French). Visitors could enjoy a Self-portrait by Louis Janmot which the museum had just purchased directly from the owner, one of the artist’s descendants. The image is fascinating : the young artist (not yet eighteen), a student at the Ecole des beaux-arts in Lyon under Bonnefond, seems to be staring at the viewer, in a strange and almost disturbing face to face. In fact, he is confronting the blank canvas in front of him, wielding his brush as an arm, awaiting the inspiration needed to produce a masterpiece. This self-portrait would fit perfectly in a survey of the figure of the Romantic artist, which Janmot was not at all.
In April 1832, the artist shared the prize “Laurier d’or” with Pierre Bonirote, the highest award at the school, which generally meant the winner then left for a Parisian workshop. However, no doubt due to the outbreak of a cholera epidemic, Janmot arrived in the capital almost a year and a half later, in November 1833, when he then became a student of Orsel and Ingres [1].

2. Louis Janmot (1814-1892)
Virgin with Child
Balck stone, red chalk and white chalk - 106 x 51 cm
Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon

3. Louis Janmot (1814-1892)
Triptych of The Month of Mary, 1850
Oil on wood
Central panel : 106 x 51 cm
Panels of each side : 122 x 35 cm
Lyon, primatiale Saint-Jean
Photo : Didier Rykner

Janmot is an important artist and the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Lyon which holds his masterpiece, the cycle of Poem of the Soul, is therefore committed to showing his art as completely as possible. It had thus acquired a drawn cartoon (ill. 2) representing a Virgin with Child, preparatory for the central panel of the triptych, The Month of Mary, held in the Cathedral of Saint-Jean (ill. 3), in 2008 (we had not yet mentioned it), from the Elstir Gallery in Paris. The architecture of this neo-gothic altarpiece was designed by the Lyon architect, Pierre-Marie Bossan, who was also responsible for many religious structures including the Fourvieres basilica. Janmot’s models are clearly pre-Raphaelite and allude to the Italian Quattrocento.

Didier Rykner, dimanche 26 décembre 2010


[1] See notably Elisabeth Hardouin-Fugier, Louis Janmot 1814-1892, Lyon, 1981, pp. 24 and 25.

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