|'Albaydé' (1848) by Alexandre Cabanel; Musée Fabre, Montpellier|
The choice for French painter Alexandre Cabanel, born on 28 September 1823, was quickly made but to select one painting for today took a bit longer. There are many paintings that I like. I have to tell you that I had never heard of Cabanel but he was apparently a major artist. He painted portraits and historical subjects in the academic tradition and was together with William Adolphe Bouguereau one of the most succesful and influential academic painters of his time. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1844. He won the Prix de Rome scholarship the following year which enabled him to go to Rome. His painting The Birth of Venus (1863) is one of the most well-known 19th century paintings and his best-known work. It was exhibited at the Salon in 1863 and bought by Napoleon III for his private collection. Cabanel was an opponent of Impressionism and as a member of the Paris Salon, he didn't allow Édouard Manet and many other painters to exhibit their work at the Salon in 1863. This led to the establishment of the Salon des Refusés. Today's painting is the last in a series of three paintings that Cabanel made for his chief patron Alfred Bruyas. 'Albaydé' was inspired by Victor Hugo's poem 'Fragments of a Serpent'. I think it's a beautuful painting and I cannot really tell you why I chose this one over his other paintings other than that the woman's face is captivating. I found a very long article on Cabanel so if you are interested in his life and work, then you should definitely click here.