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Emile Munier (French, 1810-1895)
Emile Munier (French, 1810-1895)

A Tender Moment

Emile Munier (French, 1810-1895)
A Tender Moment
signed 'E. Munier' (lower left)
oil on canvas
29¼ x 21 in. (74.3 x 53.3 cm.)
with John Levy Galleries, New York.
Edwin C. Shuttleworth, New York (acquired by the above in 1949).
Thence by descent to the present owner circa 1969.

Lot Essay

Emile Munier began his studies under the direction of Adolphe Lucas, and later worked with William Adolphe Bouguereau, the incomparable master of Academic painting. Munier was a frequent exhibitor at the Paris Salon from 1869 until 1895, where he received an honorable mention for his painting La Source in 1882. He was also a member of the Societé des Artistes Français and maintained a studio at Boulevard Beausejour.

A Tender Moment is a perfect example of Emile Munier's outstanding mastery of the Academic technique and displays the direct influence of of his teacher, William Bouguereau.

Excellent draughtsmanship and a close study of human anatomy were considered cornerstones of Academic tradition. Years were spent at the Academy studying and drawing the human figure, and the excellence of artists was judged based on their ability to accurately and naturally depict the human form and its many expressions. For even the most experienced and decorated artists the most difficult of all extremities to articulate in paint was considered to be human face, hands and feet. Furthermore, the most challenging texture to reproduce, all the while keeping in true form with its appearance in nature, was the human hair. The very thin, almost translucent glazes of color that needed to be applied one on top of another was overwhelming to even the most patient of artists. Only a handful of the 19th Century painters have been able to truly replicate the shiny and silky surface of human hair all the while managing to give a sense of each individual strain, amongst these are the great William Bouguereau and James Tissot. In A Tender Moment, Emile Munier's wonderfully skilled handling of the young sitters in the Realist tradition is a true testament to Munier's excellence over form and technique.

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