Emmanuel Michel Benner (1836-1896)
Emmanuel Benner is one of the foremost painters of the figure, and one of the greatest masters of the
nude in particular, who exhibit at the Paris Salon. He was born at Mulhausen, in Alsace, and studied
under Pils in Paris. His pictures, which, like "A Study," are usually very simple in subject,
possess an extraordinary naturalness of color, and are equally lifelike in modeling and spirit.
Like his twin brother, the distinguished artist Jean Benner,
Emmanuel Benner commenced his life
as a designer for the mills and factories of Mulhouse in Alsace, where he was born in 1836.
At the age of thirty, having amassed some means by strict economy, he devoted himself entirely
to art, his masters in painting being Eck, Henner, a fellow Alsatian; and Leon Bonnat. He at
first painted pictures of still life, portraits, and genre subjects, and commenced exhibiting
at the Salon in 1868. In 1875 he struck out in a new direction, and his masterly paintings of
the nude won him immediate favor. The character of his art has been sufficiently adverted to
in Part I. of this work. Benner won his first Salon medal in 1881, with a picture very similar
in character to "The Sleeper," which was entitled "Le Repos."
In "Venus Appearing to the Three Graces" is presented another characteristic
example of Emmanuel Benner.
of Emmanuel Benner also dives into Greek legend for its subject.
Daphne, a beautiful nymph of the forest and stream, became the object of a violent passion on
the part of Apollo. She scorned him. He pursued her, and she called upon her mother, the Earth, for succor. The
appeal was answered. According to one version of the fable she was turned into a laurel tree just as Apollo was about to grasp her, and
the laurel was thenceforward a tree sacred to all poets and heroes, and was used as a crown of honor. The name of the transformed nymph was
given to the grove in which her transformation occurred, and in which was erected a sanctuary
and temple to Apollo and Diana.
The "Wood Nymph Reposing"
is one of the fine studies of the nude of Emmanuel Benner.
This picture was exhibited at the Salon of 1881 and is esteemed the artist's masterpiece. It was
by it that he secured his first medal.
Emmanuel Benner shows the beautiful
wife of Tyndarus and mother of Castor and Pollux seated on the river bank arranging her hair after
her bath, while the enamored Jupiter, full of the eagerness of passion, approaches her on the water
in the guise, which he has assumed, of a swan.
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