Constantin Guys


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(b Flushing [Vlissingen], 3 Dec. 1802; d Paris, 13 Mar. 1892).

French illustrator. In the earlier part of his career he travelled widely and adventurously, fighting in the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s, for example, and in 1855 he covered the Crimean War as a correspondent for the Illustrated London News. After he settled in Paris in the late 1850s, however, he became famous for his vigorous drawings of fashionable life, which were published in various journals. He seems to have been self-taught as an artist. In 1863 Baudelaire immortalized him as ‘The Painter of Modern Life’ in his celebrated essay of that name. Many of the leading avant-garde painters of the day admired his work, including Degas and Manet, and because of his realistic approach to contemporary subjects and his liveliness of touch he has been seen as a precursor of Impressionism. In spite of his renown, he had difficulty earning a living with his work and died in poverty at the age of 89.

Subjects: Art.

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