Henri Pierre Picou
Born: Nantes, France
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French painter belonging to the French Neo-classical school of painting of the second half of the 19th century. A student of Paul Delaroche in Paris, he befriends the artists Jean-Léon Gérôme and Charles Gleyre and his style will show their influence. A painter of historical subjects, allegories and genre scenes, from 1847 onwards he becomes a regular exhibitor at the French Salon where he is rewarded twice, in 1848 and 1857. He presented works of allegorical and mythological scenes, painted in his huge studio located Boulevard Magenta in Paris, mainly representations of half-naked or naked women among classical antique settings. In 1853 he won the Prix de Rome.
He was also commissioned by the Church to work on very large scale projects of religious scenes, in Nantes for the Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours and in Paris, for the Église Saint-Roch where one can still admire two of his grand mural paintings decorating the walls of the Chapelle des Saints Apôtres, The Preaching of St Paul and St Peter Receiving the Keys, dated 1854. These compositions of a style between Courbet’s Naturalism and Puvis de Chavannes’s Symbolism forecast his most typical work to come: An Allegory to Nature, dated 1895, and today in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes. From his debut in 1847, he was a regular at the Salon, showing almost every year until his final exhibit in 1893. He has been called the most fashionable painter towards the close of the Second French Empire.