(b Dôle, Jura, 15 March 1821; d Paris, 1 March 1882).
French painter. The son of the painter and sculptor Jean-Séraphin-Désiré Besson (17951864), he was a pupil of A. Brune (180280), Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps and Jean Gigoux. He made his début in the Salon of 1842 with two portraits that were poorly received. On the advice of his friend Gigoux he then concentrated on painting mural genre subjects in the style of Jean-François Millet. He also produced many amorous scenes inspired by 18th-century French painting (especially Nicolas Lancret). He was responsible for some fine pastiches in the Rococo revival style much in favour during the 1850s. In 1850 he received a commission for two religious paintings, Angels at the Tomb of the Magdalene (Paris, St Eustache) and the Flight into Egypt (Besançon, Mus. B.-A.). He also painted some decorative works for the private residences of Napoleon III, for the foyer of the Comédie-Française and for private houses in Paris (e.g. Apotheosis of Woman; Paris, Hôtel de la Païva), and in Brussels and Cologne. His total output was considerable.
The Women of the Comedie Francaise in their
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