(b. 1824, Paris, d. 1888, Paris)


French painter. Born of creole parents, Boulanger became an orphan at 14. His uncle and guardian sent him to the studio of Pierre-Jules Jollivet and then in 1840 to Paul Delaroche, whose prosaic Realism and dry, careful technique influenced Boulanger's style of painting. A first visit to Algeria in 1845 gave him an interest in North African subjects, which was taken up later by his friend Jean-Léon Gérome. In 1849 he won the Prix de Rome with Ulysses Recognized by his Nurse (École Nationale Supérieur des Beaux-Arts, Paris), in which he combined academic figure drawing with Pompeian touches inspired by Ingres's Antiochus and Stratonice (1840; Musée Condé, Chantilly). Boulanger's knowledge of the ruins at Pompeii, which he visited while studying at the École de Rome, gave him ideas for many future pictures, including the Rehearsal in the House of the Tragic Poet (1855; St Petersburg, Hermitage), in which the influence of Stratonice is still obvious.

Boulanger specialized in painting studies of daily life from ancient Greece and Rome, as well as Arab subjects. He also painted a number of decorative schemes, at the theatre of the Casino in Monte Carlo (1879), at the Paris Opéra (1861-74) and other locations, opportunities gained through his friendship with Charles Garnier, his fellow pensionnaire at the École de Rome. He entered the Institut de France in 1882 and became an influential teacher, well known for his dislike of the Impressionists and their successors.

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