(Mulhouse 1836 - Paris 1906)
Portrait of young capriote
Oil on canvas,
H. 40 cm; L. 33 cm
Signed and located lower left
Originally from Mulhouse, Jean Benner comes from a family inspired by the arts. His twin brother Emmanuel, is also a painter, mainly of historical subjects and nudes. These young Alsatians are obviously friends with Jean-Jacques Henner, who shares their taste for figures and a soft atmosphere. During his first artistic years, Jean Benner made models for the textile industry in his hometown. He quickly joined Paris and the workshops of Léon Bonnat and Ernest Hébert, whose filiation is found in his works. His first compositions will mainly focus on floral atmospheres, before turning to portraiture. It is this art which he will handle until the end of his days, in Alsace as in Capri where he will go regularly from 1866. It is on this Italian island that he will marry the daughter of his host, and will continue to paint young women with a tan complexion and colorful clothes.
Our painting, located by the artist in Capri, is typical of his local production. The particularity of this work is its modernism with the white background and the perfect profile of this young woman with a bright orange headdress. The quick touch used for the fabrics accentuates the already important relief and depth created by the play of shade of the flesh.
The finer touch used on this last part underlines Benner's desire for precision to represent the young woman in all her splendor. Preserved in its strict originality, this painting by the Alsatian painter is to be classified among his masterpieces, as is his painting in the 1887 drawing room "A corner of shadow in Capri", where we find these charming female faces from the island.