Joseph W. Urner, Lincoln, MA ,1980s
Then by descent
Paul Seignac was born in Bordeaux, France on February 12,1826. He became a pupil of Edouard Picot (1786-1868) in Paris, a history painter who executed several commissions in churches in Paris. In a departure from his training, Seignac chose to pursue his interest in genre paintings, specializing in the depiction of children and rural life. A popular caregory throughout Europe in the nineteenth century, genre paintings of children helped establish the careers on many artists, especially in France and in England. Many of Seignac's works show children in endearing roles, sometime mischievous, sometimes in innocent play. Several of the paintings depict a pair of children helping one another complete some type of household chore.
Seignac also painted outdoor scenes set in country villages, depicting charming scenes of everyday life. These works show the beginnings of social realism, the sort practiced by Jules Bastien Lepage (1848-1884) and Jean Francois Millet (1814-1875) whose works enjoyed popularity in the latter half of the century. Seignac exhibited at the Paris Salon, making his debut in 1849, and receiving an honorable mention in 1889. His works have always been popular with collectors in France, (he was represented by Galerie des Artistes Moderne in Paris), England and the United States. His paintings of children are often commercially reproduced. His works can be found in museums in Ajaccio Corsica, and Reims.
Our painting, The Lessons , is characteristic of Seignac’s best genre work. The painting is of two children in a quiet domestic interior space. One can assume that the children are siblings. The girl is explaining a drawing to the boy as she looks at him with her finger pointed at it. He stands with his hands behind his back and is viewing the drawing with much curiosity. The viewer’s attention moves from one child to another and through the window of the door. The composition evokes an intimate and delightful atmosphere. The draping of the clothes, the shadows of the children and furniture highlight Seignac’s great use of light. The composition is balanced and the palette is timeless.