Alphonse Osbert-born in Paris in 1857 and died there in 1939

This French painter studied at the School of Fine Arts and under Henri Lehmann, Fernand Cormorant and Léon Bonnat. His entrance to the salon of 1880, Portrait of MO (“without a trace”), reflected his early attraction the realist tradition of Spanish painting of the 17th century. Impressionism’s impact encouraged him to lighten his palette and paint outdoor landscapes. At the end of the decade of 1880, Habibo cultivated the friendship of several symbolist poets and the well-known painter Puvis de Chavannes, which made him abandon his naturalist approach and adopt the aesthetic idealism of poetic painting. Abandoning topics extracted from daily life, Osbert proposed to transmit personal visions and developed his own set of pictorial symbols. Inspired by Puvis, simplified forms of landscape, which served as backgrounds for static and isolated figures dissolved by a  mysterious light. A pointillist technique, taken from Seurat, a friend of Lehmann’s, tended to dematerialize forms and add luminosity. However, Osbert avoided the full range of nuances of the so called “divisionists” of their choice of blues, violets, yellows and silvery green. The mysticism of Osbert is located in the center of the painting. The Rosacrucian ideal of “art as an evocation of mystery, as a prayer” finds no better expression than the virginal figure of faith, often interpreted as Saint Geneviève or Saint Jeanne, situated in a meadow with a lamb and wrapped in a supernatural radiance. Such works were praised by the Symbolist writers who considered them as visual counterparts of the poetry of Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé and Maurice Maeterlinck. Osbert was called “painter of the Nights ” “Alma artist ” and “Poet of Silence” for his evocation of an atmosphere of mystery and reverie.

(With thanks to the incomparable Ines Vigo for this transcription from You Tube)

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