Émile Villa studied from 1861 at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Charles Gleyre and Auguste Glaize. His work includes portraits of children, animals and genre scenes. During exhibitions at the Paris Salon, where he was involved in the years 1859-1882 and over again, he was primarily known for his portraits of women in decorative arrangements, which reflect the tastes of the Parisian audience.
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
In a letter to his parents, the artist Frédéric Bazille (1841—1870) wrote:
“[Émile] Villa and [Claude] Monet are the only students from the studio whom I see on a regular basis; they like me and I like them too, for they are really charming young men.”
(Letter from Frédéric Bazille, December 11, 1861)
It was 1861 and Émile Villa had just been accepted to the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where many of the greatest artists of the past 200 years — French or otherwise — had been trained. Along with Monet and Bazille, Villa had been placed in the studio of Charles Gleyre (Swiss, 1806 - 1874)and Auguste Glaize (French, 1807 -1893), both esteemed teachers and highly successful artists.
After graduating, Villa and Monet shared a studio at 117 rue de Vaugirard, and began in earnest to make their names as painters. Whereas Monet struggled to receive attention for his works, Villa was quickly invited to work as an assistant to Gustave Courbet (1819 - 1877). Earlier made infamous for his populist politics and often indecent paintings, by the 1860s Courbet had become increasingly respected by fellow artists and patrons for his thoughtful and painterly work.
Villa’s education and subsequent work with Courbet led to early successes in the notoriously exclusive Paris Salon. Artistic careers were made and lost in the annual contest that drew millions of visitors from around the world. Successful artists would then be patronized by royal courts, governments, and affluent. In addition, their works would be reproduced in prints, and distributed in weekly arts journals, framed and hung in middle-class homes. Villa's first work accepted to the contest was The Heron (1870), a large oil painting of a heron, inspired in style and subject Japanese woodblock prints — then en vogue in Paris and influential in the work of many artists, including Vincent Van Gogh (DATES). For the next twenty years, Villa was a regular exhibitor, submitting works that were increasingly daring in their compositional complexity and artistic arsenals; yet, nearly always including moments of whimsy.