CABANEL, Alexandre
(b. 1823, Montpellier, d. 1889, Paris)

Biography

French painter of portraits and historical subjects in the academic style. He entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the age of seventeen. He exhibited at the Salon for the first time in 1844, and won the Prix de Rome in 1845. His painting The Birth of Venus was shown at the Salon in 1863, and was bought by Napoleon III for his own personal collection. That same year he was made a professor of the École des Beaux-Arts.

Cabanel's erotic imagery, cloaked in historicism, appealed to the propriety of the higher levels of society. He was a determined opponent of the Impressionists, especially Manet, although the refusal of the academic establishment to realize the importance of new ideas and sources of inspiration would eventually prove to be the undoing of the Academy.