Georges Jules Victor Clairin (1843-1919)


Born in 1843, Clairin trained in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, entering the institution in 1861 and studying under Pils and Picot. His academic style led to his work being accepted for numerous exhibitions in the Salon from 1866 onwards, and he was awarded a silver medal at the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris. He travelled extensively, particularly in Spain, Egypt and Morocco; the Moorish architecture of Spain was to have a great influence on his work, and much of his oeuvre shows his interest in Orientalism. He shared this influence with his compatriot Jean-Léon Gérôme, with whom he travelled in Italy. After having fought in the Franco-Prussian war, Clairin lived in Morocco for 18 months, and during this period his lavish and luxurious paintings developed further.

Clairin is particularly well known for his portraits of Sarah Bernhardt, an actress with whom he had a long standing friendship, and of whom he executed various portraits. He had a particular interest in theatre and music, and in 1895 travelled to Egypt with Camille Saint-Saens, the important composer particularly well known for his important work Danse macabre. Clairin was knighted in 1897, and in 1901 an important exhibition of his works was held at the Galerie Georges Petit.