BENOUVILLE, François-Léon
(b. 1821, Paris, d. 1859, Paris)


Painter, part of a French family of painters, brother of Jean-Achille Benouville. He was a student of Picot at the same time as his brother and entered the École des Beaux-Arts at the age of 16. He exhibited regularly at the Salon from 1838 and won the Prix de Rome in 1845 (the same year as his brother) with his Christ before the Tribunal (Paris, École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts), the almost violent intensity of expression and realism of which is rare in paintings of this period. In Rome he became interested in Early Christian art, from which he acquired a sense of the monumental without being distracted from his search for realism, as exemplified in Martyrs Led away to their Ordeal (1855; Paris, Louvre).

In 1852 he and Alexandre Cabanel, with whom he shared the prestigious prix de Rome in 1845, made several decorative paintings (now destroyed) for the Hôtel de Ville in Paris. Tragically, few large-scale compositions remain by this artist. Considered by many to be among the most promising history painters of his time, Benouville died of typhoid fever at the age of thirty-eight.