Edmond Aman-Jean Biography

(Was a French Symbolist Painter)

Birthday: January 13, 1858 (Capricorn)

Born In: Chevry-Cossigny, France

Edmond Aman-Jean was a French painter known among the best symbolist painters in history. Born into a rich industrialist family, Edmond grew up a few kilometres outside Paris, in a small village. French expressionism was at its peak when he was growing up and he eventually became interested in art. After taking art lessons from Henri Lehmann at the famous École des Beaux-Arts, he became his assistant. With him, Edmond learned the basics of painting and mural drawings. He also befriended several like-minded painters and developed his iconic style of symbolist paintings, mostly making portraits of women. Some of his most popular paintings are Confidence, Young Woman, Woman in Pink, and Woman with Peacock among others. He is also known to draw the portrait of Saint Verlaine, which happens to be one of his most popular works of art. In 1923, he laid the foundation of Salon des Tuileries, which became one of the biggest French art exhibitions and organized annual events until the 1950s. For his contribution to art, Edmond was awarded the Commander in the Legion of Honour, which happens to be the biggest civilian honour in France.

Quick Facts

French Celebrities Born In January

Died At Age: 78


children: Céline Aman-Jean Feedback, François Aman-Jean

Partner: Thadée-Caroline Jacquet

Born Country: France

Artists French Men

Died on: January 25, 1936

place of death: Paris, France

Early Life

Edmond Aman-Jean was born on January 13, 1858, at Chevry-Cossigny, in France. He was raised in a small village that lay a few miles outside of Paris. Edmond’s father was an industrialist who owned and managed an industrial kiln.

Following his early education, Edmond enrolled in the art school named Ecole des Beaux-Arts, located in Paris. It was during this period that he befriended a lot of like-minded artists such as Alphonse Osbert and Alexandre Seon. In the good company of other symbolist painters, Edmond’s art thrived.

He also studied art under the apprenticeship of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, a known figure in the French art circles. It was also the time when French expressionism had found a distinct voice and the lanes of Paris were swarmed with such painters.

He kept painting in the studio of Henri Lehman along with a few other students, with whom he remained friends for a long time. He missed out on winning Prix de Rome in the mid-1880s, but his work was hugely appreciated. Hence, he was awarded a trip to Italy in 1886. Rome, Italy, was another centre of European art and Edmond got an opportunity to study Old Masters there. Old Masters were the group of aged painters who had started painting before 1800 and were highly revered in the European art circles.

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After painting for many years, he kept getting better at his style. His painting titled Saint Genevieve brought him the first taste of wider recognition. It was made in 1885 and portrayed Saint Genevieve, who saved Paris from an outside attack. The painting was the very first example of his keen attention to detail and his interest in painting symbolist portraits.

He also worked as an assistant to Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, his art teacher. With him, Edmond learned to paint murals and assisted Pierre in finishing some of his large projects.

Around the same time, Edmond also befriended a symbolist poet named Paul Verlaine. This friendship further paved the way for Edmond to paint one of his most popular works. In 1892, he painted Paul Verlaine when the poet was dying from syphilis. Impressed by the painting, Paul further dedicated a poem to Edmond.

1892 was also the year when Edmond had the first public exhibition of his work in Paris. The exhibition took place at Salon de la Rose+Croix, which was being run by Joséphin Péladan. Around this time, Edmond was getting more popular day by day owing to his portraits.

He was best known for making portraits of women. One such example was the painting titled Young Girl with Peacock, which he created in 1895. This painting was exhibited at Salon in the same year and Edmond earned huge accolades for it.

In 1896, Edmond was exhibited at Paris’ les artistes de l’âme (Artists of the Soul) which was situated in the lobby of the Théâtre de la Bodinière. A few other symbolist painters who were also exhibited during the time were Alphonse Osbert, Carlos Schwabe and Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer. The exhibition was a success and it earned many critics good points. But even then, it was significantly less popular than the exhibition at Salon de la Rose+Croix.

At the turn of the century, Edmond painted another popular masterpiece, named Woman in Pink. In fact, some of his best paintings from the early 1900s are portraits of women. One of the many surviving Edmond paintings from that era was titled Woman with Glove. Edmond experimented a bit with this one. This, among many others, was created using patterns of marks, which presented the painting with an ethereal quality.

Most of his paintings showed women sitting relaxed, turned in profile, mostly towards the left. The women he painted were frequently looking into space, as if in deep thinking. He loved painting in pastels and frequently used colours such as pink, violet and red. The use of bold colours, matched with undulant brush strokes, gifted his paintings with a surreal dream-like quality.

Apart from making portraits for a living, Edmond was also known for his murals in public spaces and official buildings. He is perhaps best known for painting the mural on Sorbonne.

Edmond also went on to become an art teacher in his own right. Some of his students such as Charles Sydney Hopkinson, Theodor Pallady, and Nicolae Tonitza became popular French artists.

In 1923, along with two other painters, Edmond laid the foundation of Salon des Tuileries. It was an annual art exhibition, exhibiting paintings and sculptures from some of the best French artists. The first exhibition was organized in Paris in the same year. Until the 1950s, annual exhibitions were organized at different locations.

In 1933, Edmond was awarded a place as Commander in the Legion of Honour, which is known as the highest French order of merit.

Apart from drawings, Edmond also designed posters and was into printmaking, like most painters of his generation.

Personal Life & Death

Edmond Aman-Jean married another painter named Thadee Jacquet in 1892. She was the daughter of a French noble. The couple raised two children together- Francois Henry Amand Jean and Celine. Francois became a famous writer and a playwright. Their daughter Celine became an artist and sculptor.

Edmond remained lifelong friends with Georges Seurat. In their initial years of struggling to make it as painters, they shared a studio in Paris. Georges also painted Edmond’s portrait which was dubbed as one of the best portraits of the nineteenth century by the art historian Robert Herbert.

Edmond passed away on January 25, 1936, in Paris, France, where he worked almost all his life.

See the events in life of Edmond Aman-Jean in Chronological Order

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