Alexandre Cabanel [1823-1889] was a French painter, most active during the second half of the nineteenth century. He painted historical, classical and religious subjects in the academic style; Cabanel was also well-known as a portrait painter. He is considered one of the best representatives of the L'art Pompier and Napoleon III's preferred painter.
Cabanel was born in Montpellier, Hérault. He entered the “École des Beaux-Arts” in Paris at the age of seventeen. Cabanel studied with François-Édouard Picot and exhibited at the Paris Salon for the first time in 1844, and won the Prix de Rome scholarship in 1845 at the age of twenty two. Cabanel was elected a member of the Institute in 1863 and appointed professor at the École des Beaux-Arts in the same year. He also won the Grande Médaille d'Honneur at the Salons of 1865, 1867 and 1878. His refusal together with William-Adolphe Bouguereau to allow the impressionist painter Édouard Manet and other painters to exhibit their work in the Salon of 1863 led to the establishment of the Salon des Refusés.
A successful academic painter, his 1863 painting "The Birth of Venus" is one of the best known examples of 19th century academic painting. The picture was bought by the emperor Napoleon III; there is also a smaller replica (painted in 1875 for a banker, John Wolf) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was gifted to them by Wolf in 1893. Of his Classical Histories, one of the most renowned was Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Those Condemned, of which a similar work, Cleopatra, concentrating on the Queen of Egypt, rather than a genre scene, was also created by Cabanel. Foremost amongst his his religious histories was the Life of St Louis.
Other museums counting with his works are: the Dahesh Museum in New York City, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, the Musée Garinet in Châlons-en-Champagne and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Béziers.
Alexandre Cabanel (Montpellier, 28 settembre 1823 - Parigi, 23 gennaio 1889) è stato un pittore Francese.
Allievo di François-Édouard Picot all'École des Beaux-Arts, vinse il secondo Prix de Rome nel 1845, passando così cinque anni a Villa Medici a Roma. Ottenne grande fama con il quadro La Nascita di Venere, acquistata da Napoleone III nel 1863. Lo stesso anno fu nominato professore all'École des Beaux-Arts e membro dell'Académie des beaux-arts.
Membro di giuria per 17 volte dal 1868 al 1888 del Salon, ne ricevette la medaglia d'onore nel 1865, 1867 e 1878.
Fu pittore di storia, di genere e ritrattista: conteso dai collezionisti d'Europa e d'America, richiesto come ritrattista, fu nemico del Naturalismo e dell'Impressionismo, e fu attaccato da Émile Zola e da tutti coloro che difendevano la necessità di un'arte meno soave e più realista.
Il collega Edouard Manet lo disprezzava, tanto che le sue ultime parole prima di morire furono "Sta bene, quello!", riferendosi proprio a Cabanel.
Fra i suoi allievi si contano Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant, Albert Besnard, Tony Tollet, Paul-Joseph Blanc, Gaston Bussière, Eugène Carrière, Théobald Chartran, Fernand Cormon, Pierre Auguste Cot, Henry Daras, Antonio Carvalho da Silva Porto, Édouard Debat-Ponsan, Émile Friant, Georges Gasté, François Guiguet, Fernand Lematte, Jules Bastien-Lepage, Charles Mengin, Charles Léandre, Aristide Maillol, Aimé Morot, Louis Muraton, Georges Moreau de Tours, Fernand Pelez de Cordova, Henri Regnault, Lionel Royer, Jean-Jacques Scherrer, Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, Adolphe Willette, Hippolyte Petitjean, Joseph-Noël Sylvestre, Jacqueline Comerre-Paton.