Clair, Charles (1860-1947)

Clair, Charles (1860-1947)

Charles Clair was a French artist predominantly known for his naturalistic depictions of sheep in barn settings. He also painted landscapes and scenes. Hailing from the picturesque rural area of Mars-sur-Allier, near Nevers, in central France, his early years were spent on the family farm. It’s likely that during his childhood, he assisted his father with the daily routines.

One can imagine the young Charles clutching his sketchbook as he studied the various livestock. Tucked alongside the sheepfold to observe movement and form. These early experiences would underpin his love for animal painting, which served him well as his career progressed.

He trained initially at the École des Arts in Nevers, near home, and later at the illustrious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It was a classical education whereby the emphasis was placed on life drawing and studying the masters. It’s recorded in Salon catalogues that he also trained under the tutelage of academic painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905).

During his 20s, he produced numerous landscapes, particularly in the region of Bourges. These were meticulous with details acutely rendered, probably sketched from life and completed in the studio. It appears that he’d connected with a local dealer at this point who sold his works at auction, hence the focus on local views.

At the turn of the century, Clair’s emphasis shifted towards animal painting, a genre he’d always excelled at. La Bergerie (the sheepfold) became a popular subject. The sheep, often evocatively lit by a waning sun and rendered with chiaroscuro, adopt humanistic qualities. There’s a sense of family, kinship even, which elevates these scenes to loftier heights. He was at his most productive when his boots were nestled into hay.

In 1913, as recognition of his success, he was elected a member of the Salon des Artistes Français, where his works were shown regularly. He continued working into old age and spent his later years in the suburbs of Paris with his wife and children.


Salon des Artistes Français.



Born in Mars-sur-Allier, France, to Léon Clair, a farmer, and Marie Breu.

Studied at the École des Arts in Nevers.

Studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.


Various works sold via Pécriaux in Bourges.


Sale in Bourges.


Lived in Voluray near La Charité-sur-Loire.


Lived in Luthenay-Uxeloup, Nièvre, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, with his wife Marguerite Clair (nee Dominique) and three children.


‘Adoration of the Shepherds’ shown at the Paris Salon.


Lived in Alfortville, Val-de-Marne, Île-de-France, France, with his wife and five children.


Received an honourable mention at the Salon des Artistes Français.
Elected a member of the Salon des Artistes Français.


Lived in Alfortville, Val-de-Marne, Île-de-France, France, with his wife and two children.


Lived in Alfortville, Val-de-Marne, Île-de-France, France, with his wife.


Lived in Saint-Fargeau, 20e Arrondissement, Paris, Île-de-France, with his wife.


Died in Paris.

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