GARNIER, Etienne-Barthélemy
(b. 1759, Paris, d. 1849, Paris)


French painter. Although he was given a sound Classical education to prepare for the magistrature, he found a painter's career more alluring. Despite his late start, he had an impeccable record of success in competition with the pupils of Jacques-Louis David, whose influence he mostly resisted. Trained by Louis-Jacques Durameau, Gabriel-François Doyen and Joseph-Marie Vien, he won second place in the Prix de Rome competition in 1787 with Death of Sedecius (Le Mans, Musée Tessé) and first place in 1788 with a strenuously rhetorical Death of Tatius (Paris, École Normale Supérieure des Beax-Arts, Paris). Although his stay in Italy was abruptly ended by the Roman crisis of 1793, he completed before his return to Paris the course work and other pictures, including an academic study of St Jerome (Troyes, Musée des Beaux-Arts) and several Classical subjects.

Upon his return to France in 1793, Garnier exhibited regularly at the Salons until 1846. His historical and antique subjects earned him great success and the artist became one of the favourite painters of the Empire and Restauration governments. He was even given the prestigious commission to decorate the ceiling of the Salle de Diane in the Louvre together with Pierre-Paul Prud'hon and Léonor Mérimée.

While Garnier had a thriving career in his lifetime, even becoming President of the Académie, his reputation declined after his death and appreciation for his works has only recently been revived.