Léon Bazille Perrault (1832-1908) was a French master of genre and mythological subjects. He was a student at Bouguereau’s  atelier, which deeply influenced the style of his paintings. Rather than dwell on encyclopedic information, lets look at his paintings….


Léon Bazille Perrault ~ Love and Innocence ~ 1884

Love and Innocence shows a multitude of expressions in just one look; as the young subject looks at once pensive, yet also daydreaming, then contemplative as well; and yet present with the viewer…. and this is why we are captured by the direct gaze of the young woman.

In her lap sleeps a Cupid, but this can perhaps indicate she is also thinking of engaging a lover for herself in the not-to-distant future. She is holding the sleeping Cupids hand, but this hand is placed on her lap in a manner at once innocent but quite telling as being the cause of the faraway look in this maidens eyes… they are innocent eyes…but they seek knowledge….

Is this the symbolic rendering of a virgin contemplating the events which will lead to her awakening as a woman to the mysteries of love???

This the real question asked in the painting

Léon Bazille Perrault ~ Cupids Arrows ~ 1882

Cupids Arrows had the  unpleasant property of making those pieced by them to fall in love with the first person they saw…with sometimes tragic result, as one can imagine.

Here we see Cupid having just let fly his arrow at the heart of yet another victim of his deadly aim…

The fact that so many of these angelic Cherubs were painted and placed in positions with women that suggest intimacy without the taint of sensual love proves that the artists were quite aware of the fact that Lucifer is mentioned in Isaiah as “the anointed cherub” who was in paradise…

This but proves that the delightful cherubs the artists manifested in their frames were not at all fallen; and were part of our innocence in paradise that was there at the beginning before the Fall; as they were the original guardian angels in Eden to protect Adam and Eve from straying into rebellion and breaking the commandment of God…

Léon Bazille Perrault ~ La cigale ~ 1893

In presenting the true nature of man seen in this very beautiful woman that is revealed in nude portraiture, we are at once struck by the somewhat bold and challenging look of out lute player wearing her flowered crown as showing us one of the Muses of Parnassus; perhaps as of the one called Harmonie, as she was known…

Is she singing?? In this total realism of the figure we are struck by the unheard melody but can only surmise it is as captivating as she herself….

It seems she is accompanying her song with her own hand; which is placed in an a position of holding itself in an obvious chord of some intricacy; which shows she is no novice to the skill she here evinces…

That he seems to be holding forth in the bucolic surroundings of the forest only add to her natural charms.

For some this would certainly remind them of the refined realism of the Pre-Raphaelites

I see the intrusion of actual Realism…..but such is the luxury of not affording oneself an opinion….

Léon Bazille Perrault ~ Maternal Love

 The baby seems removed from the painting, even as the centerpiece. Yet this theme is not as easy to portray as one might think,  for to define Motherhood as this painting does requires deftness and restraint….the distinction is subtle, but the interplay between mother and child here is devotionally  touching.

Léon Bazille Perrault ~ Nude Child with Dove

The Virgin Child, as the Dove was associated with absolute purity. For her to represent herself as symbolic of the Innocence of the Dove is fairly straightforward.

I would ask the viewer if the child holds the gaze of the calm expression as one of coy acceptance or sweet adoration….of the Dove itself.??? Or is it more ambiguous as to the real object of worship??

Léon Bazille Perrault ~ Young Flōra

Flora signified Nature, and this child represents the Eden or Untouched Land of Promise. That is why this child bears the signatories of Nature as seen in the wearing it’s emblems.  

The color of pink is exploding  in the skin tone here as well; if one would compare this  with the rather harder lines in the work of Bouguereau, his teacher and mentor. But here we see a gentle sensibility missing in others contemporaries and his teacher as well…

Here it can be seen that Perrault does not use a finer line than seen in the work of Bouguereau: but employs a finer perspective….

Perhaps this is why after his death they raised a statue in his honor.