Émile Jean-Marie Brunet, The Reading Light

Émile Jean-Marie Brunet, The Reading Light

A calm and reflective study of a young lady reading by French painter, Émile Jean-Marie Brunet (1869-1943). She’s wearing a prominent gold cross and it’s likely that she’s holding the bible.

Brunet has observed the light particularly well as it falls across her shoulder, catching her bonnet, and illuminating the pages. Perhaps this could be a symbolic reference to the Divine.

Émile Jean-Marie Brunet was an accomplished painter that trained under the great Gustave Moreau (1826-1898) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He was friends with Albert Marquet, Henri Matisse and Georges Rouault and considered by many to be their equal. Yet his portfolio is often overlooked in favour of his contemporaries.

His lack of notoriety could be due, in part, to his often hermetic nature and it’s been noted that he was a reclusive character.

“Speaking little, meditative spirit, Émile Brunet did not bond easily, but when he had given his friendship, it was deep, sure.”

Two years prior to painting this piece, he returned to live in Bordeaux from Paris and perhaps looked to find a calmer environment. It’s interesting that he decorated various churches in the region as this reminds us of a reflective Michelangelo.

He painted this study in 1894 at the age of 25 and it captures a quiet moment of stillness - a long way from Paris. Several of Brunet’s works are housed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Bordeaux.

The painting is signed and dated in the lower left.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 23½” x 29” / 60cm x 74cm
Year of creation: 1894
Provenance: France
Condition: Very presentable following a light restoration. Canvas relined.
Artist’s auction highlight: £7,244 achieved for ‘L'odalisque, le musicien et la servante dans un palais oriental’ at auction in 2004.

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