Alphonse Legros in France and Britain: A Tale of Two Countries

This conference organized at the University of Burgundy (Dijon) on May 4 and 5, 2017 by the Centre Interlangues (Texte-Image-Langage) and the Musée des Beaux-Arts aims at revisiting Legros’s work and role as well as his legacy and reception in the 20th and 21st centuries. Our keynote speakers are Professor Elizabeth Prettejohn (York University) and Professor Stephen Bann (University of Bristol).

Although he was born and possibly taught in Dijon, Alphonse Legros spent most of his life in Britain where he was appointed professor at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1876. Legros held the position until 1893, introducing etching and, later, sculpture to the syllabus. In 1880, he was one of the six founding members of the Society of Painter-Etchers which was to play an influential role in the late Victorian revival of printing. He was also instrumental in the modern revival of the cast portrait medal. When he died in 1911, Legros was a British citizen and a distinguished artist. The Tate Gallery organized the largest-ever retrospective of his works. However Legros did not forget France, nor did France forget him: a one-man show was held at Samuel Bing’s L’Art Nouveau gallery in 1898, and a large retrospective exhibition was curated by Léonce Bénédite at the Musée du Luxembourg in 1900. In Dijon, the Musée des Beaux-Arts set up an exhibition in 1987 and recent smaller events in France testify to an enduring interest for this transnational and transmedia artist.