Bureau, Pierre-Isidore

almost finished

Pierre(-Isidore) Bureau




Was Pierre-Isidore Bureau an Impressionist?

There is not much known of Pierre-Isidore Bureau. Even his date of birth is mostly rendered wrong, namely 1827 instead of 1822. 1865 onwards he regularly exhibited at the Salon. Bureau participated in the first two ‘impressionist’ expositions and had a main part in the liquidation of the ‘Societé Anonyme…‘. Meanwhile he continued exhibiting at the Salon. In 1876 he died. He was befriended with Boudin, but there is nothing known about contacts with other impressionists. There were at least some contacts with Renoir and Sisley and maybe also with Béliard, Pissarro and Vignon. He had also contacts with related pre-impressionists like Jongkind, Jules Dupré and maybe also with Daubigny and Courbet. So I conclude that sideways Pierre-Isidore Bureau was part of the more early years of the Impressionist art-movement.
Moonlight is a theme that is often rendered by Pierre-Isidore Bureau. Other indications of time, season and weather or not given except a winter landscape (S1868-380). Most of the time Bureau renders an indication of place. Mostly he painted in the surroundings of L’Isle-Adam. (see account) So I assume he painted en-plein-air. Bureau renders the influence of light and a fleeting moment, but he uses a lot of brown and he doesn’t use juxta-posed brushstrokes. Considering this I conclude that he merely was a landscape painter who used some elements of an  impressionist painting style, but not merely. Schurr & Cabanne state that Pierre-Isidore Bureau didn’t adopt the impressionist principles (R9), which in my opinion is not completely true.


Pierre-Isidore Bureau at the Salon:

Several sources mention Pierre-Isidore Bureau exhibited regularly at the Salon between 1865 and 1876 (R9;R88;R87;R3;iR24). The Salon database (iR1) is more precise: Bureau exhibited in 1865 +66 +67 +68 +69 +70 +72 +74 +76. He was rejected in 1873 and exhibited then at the Salon des Refusés (was this part of the quarrel Bénézit mentions and motivated him to join the Impressionist expositions?). He didn’t exhibit in 1875 at the Salon, nor at the Salon des Refusés of 1875. 1876 was the last time Bureau exhibited at the Salon, later that year he would die (iR1;R88).


Pierre-Isidore Bureau only joined the 1st and 2nd ‘impressionist’ expositions:

At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Pierre-Isidore Bureau showed 4 works (catalogue numbers 33-35bis) (R2,p120). no.35 is described in one review and just mentioned in another. No.33 is two times wrongly mentioned. (R90II,p20). For the rest Bureau was ignored.
At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Bureau showed 8 works (catalogue numbers 9-16) (R2,p161). Just 2 works are mentioned in one review (R90I,p53). For the rest Bureau was ignored.
Pierre-Isidore Bureau exhibited mostly landscapes, most of them made in the surroundings of L’Isle-Adam, including 4 nocturnes. Later in 1876 Bureau died. He was not honoured with a posthumous exhibition as his fellow impressionists did for Piette in 1879 and for Cals in 1881 (R2). See link for his pictures. See link for an account.
The Bénézit dictionary (iR69) writes Pierre-Isidore Bureau left the Salon with a quarrel and then exhibited with the Impressionists from 1876. This doesn’t stroke with the fact that he also exhibited with the Impressionists in 1874 and did exhibit at the Salon in 1874+76. Also the RKD (iR24) omits the fact Bureau exhibited also in 1874. Spiess omits that Bureau exhibited at the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 (R16,p82).
Wikipedia and others (iR4;iR34) state that Bureau was one of the organizers of the ‘Société Anonyme…’, but there is no source rendered and this is not confirmed by Moffett (R2). Rewald does mention he was present at the liquidation meeting of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ 1874/12/10 and was being member of the liquidation committee (with Renoir and Sisley) (R1,p336); Monneret affirms (R88).


Pierre-Isidore Bureau as an artist:

Pierre-Isidore Bureau was a painter and an etcher and educated by the Barbizon-painter Jules Dupré (R3,p651;R16,p82;iR5;iR24;R88;R87). Other sources mention Bureau was an autodidact (iR24;iR1). Adhémar cals him an ‘enlightened amateur’ (R87,p233). Bureau was inspired by Jongkind (R16,p82). In his landscapes, especially in his nocturnes one finds a soft romanticism influenced by Jongkind (iR69; iR34). He was befriended with Boudin and Ribot (R88;R3,p651). Probably meant is Théodule-Augustin Ribot (1823-91) a realist painter (see iR3). Adhémar mentions that Bureau also was a collector (R87,p233), but I know nothing of a posthumous auction sale.
Pierre-Isidore Bureau painted many landscapes near L’Isle-Adam (R16,p82), see account. Did Bureau have contact with Pissarro and others of the School-of-Pontoise? Bureau is not mentioned in the circuit Pontoise (R137).  Béliard also had contacts in L’Isle-Adam, but I don’t know of a work he made there. Courbet, Jules Dupré, Daubigny, Vignon all were active in L’Isle-Adam and surrounding places like Auvers-sur-Oise and Parmain (aR2).



A short biography about Pierre-Isidore Bureau:

  • 1822/02/28: Pierre-Isidore Bureau was born in Paris (aR8;iR66). This is confirmed by his death act of 1876/06/09 where in is written that he died the day before and was about 54 years old. In this act his parents are mentioned: Jean-Baptiste Bureau and Anne Foudriat. (aR7). Most other sources mention Bureau was born in 1827 in Paris (R9,p137; R16,p82; R87,p233;iR60;iR34;iR2). But in the archives of Paris there is no birth certificate of a Pierre-Isidore Bureau born in 1827 (aR8), so I assume this information is wrong.
  • 1865: Bureau lived at 31, Rue Saint-Louis, Paris (iR1).
  • 1866-1876: Bureau lived at 59, Rue de Turenne, Paris (iR1; R2,p120). The catalogue of the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 seems to mention no.31 as his address (R2,p161), but this doesn’t correspond with the information in the Salon database of 1876 (iR1). Was this a second house or only a studio?
  • One source mentions Bureau lived in  Butry and later in Parmain (aR2). Both lie close to L’Isle-Adam. His death acte confirms that he dwelled in Parmain (aR7).
  • 1868: Bureau exhibited a work made in Rotterdam, Holland.
    1870: Bureau exhibited a work made in Zaandam, Holland.
    Did Bureau made one or more trips to Holland? When? With whom?
  • 1874/12/10: Bureau was together with Renoir and Sisley part of the liquidation committee of the ‘Société Anonyme…’ (R1,p336).
  • 1876/06/08: according to a death act in the archives Valdoise Pierre Isidore Bureau died in his residence in Parmain being around 54 years old. He was married with Alexandrine Boulard, then being 32 years old (so being much younger). Witnesses were his friend Louis Marie Lemaire (52, living in Parmain) and his nephew Auguste Adolphe Boulard (24, living in nearby Champagne), both being painters.  (aR7,p78/9)
    According to other sources Bureau died in 1876 in Lille (R9; R2,p506; R16;aR2;iR34). According to other sources he (possibly) died in 1880 (R3;iR69). And there also is a work known probably made in 1882 and possibly signed by Bureau (see pictures).
  • 1900: one work of Bureau was exhibited at the World’s Fair, called ‘Claire de lune sur les bords de L’Oise’, owned by Mme Bureau.
  • 2007: Bureau was not included in the exhibition ‘L’Impressionnisme dans la Vallée d’Oise’ (iR109)
  • 2013: Bureau was included in the exhibition ‘Paysages d’eau’ in the Musée de Louviers (iR110)


Sources on Pierre-Isidore Bureau:

Most sources on Impressionism don’t mention Bureau at all (R4;R5;R6;R8;R10;R14;R15;R16;R17;R19;R21;R22;R86;R94;R95;R102;R116). Searching in databases I don’t get information either (iR19;iR26;iR40). Most other sources render limited information: Rewald (1973=R1,R316+336), Walther (2003=R3,p651), Spies (1992=R16,p82), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9,p137), Dayez / Adhémar (1974=R87,p233), Monneret (R88I,p84), the Salon database (iR1), Bénézit (iR69=R76,Vol3,p11) and the additional references mentioned below (=aR). Walter (R3,p55), Adhémar (R87,p233) and Berson (R90II,p30) render one and the same picture.
More info can be found in the Witt Library (R78,p45) and in the ‘Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (R81,Vol15,p192). For other general references (=R) see and for other references to internet sites (=iR) see. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.


Additional references (=aR):

  1. vanished french impressionists 4 (article on Bureau and others = iR35)
  2. www.ville-parmain.fr (short info on Bureau who lived in Parmain)
  3. www.photo.rmn.fr (info on ‘chemin montant’)
  4. Cologne library (links to articles; you need to log in (and pay) for access)
  5. digitalcollections.nypl.com (link to original drawing of Egyptian lady in the harem)
  6. www.musee.ville-isle-adam.fr (Musée d’art et d’histoire Louis Senlecq in L’Isle-Adam has (probably) some works of Bureau)
  7. www.archives-valdoise.fr (on page 78/9 of the registre d’état civil 1873-83 is the death acte of Pierre-Isidore Bureau)
  8. www.archives-paris.fr (birth certificate of Pierre-Isidore Bureau)
  9. books.google.nl (preview of the book of Theodore Reff with a reference to the exhibition of one work of Bureau at the World’s Fair in 1900 in Paris at the retrospective exhibition of French art 1800-1899)