Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel

French, 1839-1929 Biography

A painter of history and genre scenes, Adolphe Alexandre Lesrel was born in Genets, Normandy, on May 19th, 1839. In 1885, he became a member of the Society of French Artists, where he exhibited regularly. In 1889, he was awarded an honorable mention at the Universal Exhibition.

In 1890, he was made an associate of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and exhibited in their Salon almost every year until the end of his life. Lesrel was very much influenced by the conceptional work of the artist Jean Louis Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891), and he became a master of a new genre of history painting, offering meticulously researched and detailed compositions of an idealized view of the past.

Indeed, the first half of the 19th century saw the rise of the historical novel, in particular with the writings of Walter Scott, published throughout Europe. In France, this vogue spread mainly through the novels of Alexandre Dumas, like Henri III, The Three Musketeers, or The Count of Monte Christo. Cavaliers dressed in 17th century period costume playing cards or chess, morning visitors, letter writers or servants at domestic employment constitute most of Lesrel's subjects. His style is polished and extremely rich in details. Every surface is marvelously represented with a refined technique, depicting exquisite costume pieces, velvet gowns, furniture, objets d'art, the colours, and the texture of wood or brass. All have been researched deeply, to assure the historical accuracy of the work in a highly detailed and finished style. Today, Lesrel's historical scenes, an idealized and romantic interpretation of the past, are still very much sought after. His subject matters, the technical virtuosity of his brushwork, the focused light a typical device in his paintings, ensure him a continuing popularity.

Gassendi Museum, Digne
Musée des Beaux Arts, Digne, France
Musée des Beaux Arts, Nantes, France
Baltimore Museum of Art
New York Public Library
Musée des Beaux Arts, Saint-Lo, France
Musée de Sydney