ÉMILE MUNIER (1840-1895, French)
Émile Munier painted primarily children and pets in an ‘academic’ style, a synthesis of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. Born in Paris to working class parents, it was soon apparent that Emile as well as his two brothers had artistic talent. In 1871, Munier began to devote all his time to painting after having successfully exhibited at the Paris Salon in the 1860’s as well as having received three medals at the Beaux Arts in 1869.
Munier’s sentimental genre scenes of children, which featured his own children as models, and pets were highly prized by American art collectors. His 1885 painting, Trois Amis (Three Friends) was exhibited at the Paris Salon and was met with raving reviews. The painting went on to be distributed in posters and used in Pears Soap ads. The Victorian ideal of cleanliness was equated with the cat, and children were expected to follow the example of their cute pet kittens.
In 1895, he completed La jeune fille et le panier de chatons. Shortly thereafter he celebrated his 55th birthday, and died a few weeks later from a cerebral hemorrhage and was buried at the Montparnasse cemetery.