Female Nude, in front of a mirror
Femme nue aupres d’une glace – Female Nude, in front of a mirror 1889
etching on thin laid paper
107 x 138 mm (4 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches)
signed in pencil at lower right
Copier 72; Godefroy 85 second (final) state
His break with the academic tradition took place around 1880. Besnard now started to study the work of the Impressionists and their artistic exploration of color and light. He adapted this new concept of art to a variety of large-scale decorative works such as his frescoes at the Sorbonne, the École de Pharmacie, the ceiling of the Comédie-Française, the Salle des Sciences at the Hôtel de Ville, and the chapel of Berck hospital, for which he painted twelve Stations of the Cross in an entirely modern spirit. From 1913 he was the head of the Académie de France in Rome and in 1922 beacme the director of the École des beaux-arts in Paris.
Besnard was technically highly versatile and, with regards to subject matter, could do landscapes, portraits, figure compositions, or mural decorations with equal facility. Critics remarked that he “did all things creditably.”
The etching displays Besnard’s brilliant handling of the etching needle and is a fine example of Impressionist printmaking.