Pierre Puvis de Chavannes is not a very well-known artist. Famous throughout his life yetquickly forgotten by the history of art, his work remains little-studied in comparison tothe Impressionist masterpieces of the same period. His oeuvre, however, was crucialin France at the end of the 19th century, in particular his mural paintings which are stillvisible today in numerous important public buildings, such as the Hotel de Ville and the Pantheon in Paris, or the Palais des Beaux-arts in Lyon. Puvis’ specialty was monumental decorative works. He tackled traditionalsubjects from a more general angle and his works were accepted by all the artistic principlesof the time. Far from being a cold and academic painter, he supported artists includingCourbet, Bazile, and Degas when they were attacked by the critics. His oeuvreplayed an essential role in the construction of a national French identity in the 19thcentury.Today the glory of Puvis de Chavannes shines forth in uncontested splendour. No one dreams of comparing him with any of his contemporaries, because his art reveals no kinship with that of any one of them. He is recognized as the successor and the equal of the great fresco painters of the Italian Renaissance. Even to these he owes nothing, having borrowed nothing from them. But he shares with them his passionate love of truth, his nobility of inspiration and sincerity of execution.