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Charles Ambable Lenoir was born October 22, 1860 in Châtellaillon, a small district located near La Rochelle. His family was of moderate means and knowing that his parents would not support art as a career, Lenoir became a maître d'études (study master), and then a teacher at a secondary school, the Lycée in Rochefort. He began his artistic studies at Rochefort-su-Mer when he visited at age 20. It is possible that this taste of formal studies is what pushed him to follow his heart. After saving enough money, he was able to pursue his dream and move to Paris in 1883 at the age of 23. Being friends with the Bouguereau family served him well and after receiving a letter of recommendation from Eugene Bouguereau, the important academic master and teacher William Bouguereau's uncle, he was able to gain entry to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under William Bouguerau's direct tutelage. He also did some study with Tony Robert-Fleury (1837-1911), also at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts , though it is clear from the nature and style of his paintings that Bouguereau was his true inspiration. They became quite close and would meet over the summers at each other's homes, outside of formal training. Lenoir even painted a portrait of Bouguereau's wife, Elizabeth Gardner, in 1895.
He debuted at the Paris Salon of 1887 and continued to exhibit there thought his life, receiving distinctions in 1892, 1896 and 1900, the last of which was also the year he married Eugenie Lucchesi. The apex of his career was in 1903, when he was elected to the Legion d'honneur. He continued to paint, but as so many other artists who were caught in the change of classical to modern, his art was considered out of fashion before his death on August 1, 1926.
Over the last 35 years there has been a strong resurgence for the work of the entire period and with William Bouguereau (1825-1905) as one of the most beloved and important, his best students including Charles Ambable Lenoir (1860-1926), Jules Cave (1859-1940), Pierre Auguste Cot (1837-1883), Emile Munier (1840-1895), Gustave Jean Jacquet (1846-1909),Charles Victor Thirion (1833-1878), and Elizabeth Gardner Bouguereau (1837-1922) have also gained popularity among collectors and the public.
Lenoir's works can be seen in numerous museums in France including: Musée des Beaux Art (Museum of Fine Arts), La Rochelle; Saintes Museum, Saintes; Musée D'Art et D'Histoire (Museum of Art and History), Rochefort; École Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux Art (National School of Fine Arts), Paris; Musée des Beaux Art, Niort; Musée des Beaux Art, Angers; and Musée des Beaux Art, Cognac, and he is now known as one of Bouguereau's most important and successful students.
March 6th, 2013
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