François Flameng (1856-1923) was a very successful French painter during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th. He was the son of a celebrated engraver and received a first-rate education in his craft. Flameng initially received renown for his history painting and portraiture, and became a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts. He decorated such important civic buildings as the Sorbonne and the Opera Comique, and also produced advertising work. Flameng was granted France's highest civilian honor, the Legion d'Honneur, and designed France's first bank notes. Flameng's portraits include:
Family Portrait of a Boy and His Two Sisters
Portrait of a Girl Holding Her Two Toy Elephants
Portrait of Auguste Rodin
Portrait of Elsie Salomon Duveen, wife of the art dealer Joseph Duveen, an oval in the Ferens Art Gallery, Kingston-upon-Hull.
Portrait of Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII, full-length seated, in the White Drawing Room at Buckingham Palace.
Flameng 's history painting included:
The Carnival, Venice
Court Ladies Bathing in the 18th century
Molière Demanding an Audience With King Louis XIV at Versailles
Napoléon Studying Military History
Reception at Malmaison, 1802
Flameng later received renown for his painting of World War I. He was named honorary president of the Society of Military Painters and an accredited documenter for the War Ministry. His work was displayed in the Hôtel des Invalides in Paris, as well as being reproduced in newsmagazines. Although his paintings seem romantic to eyes which have seen photographs of genocide and nuclear war, at the time they were painted, Flameng 's war paintings were derided by many critics for being too realistic and not including heroic drama. Most of his war paintings were donated to the Musée de l'Armée in 1920. They include:
A Machine Gun Company of Chasseurs Alpins in the Barren Winter Landscape of the Vosges
The Battle of the Yser in 1914
The Donkey, Somme, 1916
The Forgotten Front
Heavy Artillery on the Railway, October 1916
François Flameng was a friend of John Singer Sargent, who painted his portrait, he also traveled with Jean Léon Gérôme and Victor Clairin in Italy, and tutored Paul-Émile Bécat. Whether any of these friendships were intimate is unknown, but Flameng traveled in circles of men who remained unmarried despite strong social pressures to marry.