18 April, 2024


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ACADEMY (Académies): Alexandre Cabanel – “Orestes” – France – 1846

LADIES, we love the pose of this piece, however it is a sad story from Greek Mythology. Alexandre Cabanel captures the beauty of the male form and tragedy of the story in this piece. 


Orestes (1846) by Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), France (French). The work depicts Orestes, who was the troubled son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, and the brother of Electra. He’s associated with overcoming madness through purification and a journey. His character tragically killed his mother, prior to his purification. The story from Greek Mythology has a dark undertone and thus he is a “classical hero,” on a “hero’s journey” or story arc.


Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), was a French Academic and Classical painter who was born in the city of Montpellier, France. He showed a strong talent for drawing at a young age and was later enrolled at the local art school in his hometown of Montpellier at the age of ten. Teachers normally said the young Alexandre Cabanel, drew like an adult and had skill of someone who had studied for years.
At a young age, he was given the opportunity to study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts, Paris. On a scholarship with money raised by his family and his city’s bishop.
In 1844, he exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon, and was awarded the Prix de Rome in 1845.
Following his debut, he soon became a favorite of the Paris Salon. He painted landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, religious themes, and the male academic nude.