French, 1828-1886

Overview

Paul Baudry (1828–1886) was a master painter of the Academic school and is particularly known for his exquisite nudes. The Pearl and the Wave, (pictured above) was described by one critic as, "the most perfect painting of the nude."  Baudry won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1850, and in the course of his residence in Italy, he derived strong inspiration from Italian art with the mannerism of Correggio. This was very evident in the two works he exhibited in the Salon of 1857, which were purchased by the French government. Baudry won first prize that year. The works that crowned his reputation were his mural decorations, above all, in the foyer of the Paris opera house. These, more than thirty paintings in all, occupied him for ten years. Baudry was also an important portraitist. Interestingly he did not hesitate to use his brush freely in his portraits in stark opposition to the Academic school of which he was a leader. This may reflect the style of the master 17th-century, Spanish painter, Velázquez, who was a major influence on French painters including, Manet, in the mid-19th century.