Jean Jacques HennerFrench, 1829-1905
When He was 12, Jean Jacques Henner was presented by his father to the artist Gutzwiller, who became his frist teacher. His family had sent him to Altkirch to board with a baker called Landwerlin, who treated him as his own son. Having worked with Gutzwiller, he joined Gabriel Guerin’s studio in Paris where he studied alongside several well known Alsatian and German painters including Jundt, Schultenberger and Haffner. Henner spent his spare time reading translations of Homer, Virgil, Horace, Ovid and Lucretius. He was soon recognized as a talent and thanks to a subsidy from the Upper Rhine department council was able to move to Paris in 1847. He joined the ecole des Beaux-Arts on April 7th that same year entering the studios of Drolling and Picot. Misfortune took him back to Alsace in 1855; his dying mother wanted her near him and he painted her deathbed in 1857. During this two year period, Henner painted numerous portraits of Alsatians.
Henner returned to Paris and in 1858 was awarded the Prix de Rome for “Adam and Eve Discovering Abel’s Body.” From Rome he sent his painting entitled Susanna Bathing to the Musee de Luxembourg in Paris . The work contains qualities of style reminiscent of the great artists of the renaissance, such as Correggio and the Venetians yet also reflects its own, sharply defined personality. His small landscapes which bring to mind the early works of Corot date form this period.
Henner mad his debut at the 1863 Paris Salon with “Young Bather Asleep” and two portraits and received a medal. He continued to take part in the Paris exhibitions asserting further his vigorous personality. He was awarded further medals in 1865 and 1866 and a first class medal in 1878 at the Exposition Universelle. He also received a special class medal in 1889, a medal of honor in 1898 and the grand prize in 1900 at the Exposition Universelle. He was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur in 1873, officer in 1878, commander in 1898 and grand officer in 1903 as well as being made a member of the Institut de France in 1889.
Laden with honors and highly regarded by his fellow artists, Henner was able to make a considerable fortune by exercising his art. He painted precise portraits and religious compositions. His success was assured with his cream-skinned, auburn-haired nudes, nebulous against brown backgrounds and sometimes placed in rural or allegorical compositions. Henner bequeathed a part of his studio to the Musee de la Ville de Paris.
E.Benizit, Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, Grund Volume 6 pg.898-899