Alfred (-Bernard) Meyer (1832-1904)
Alfred Meyer was merely an enamellist:
In books and webpages about Impressionism Alfred Meyer is hardly or not mentioned. There is no English Wikipedia page on him. Searching for this name you’ll often find a German Nazi official or a Swiss politician. Alfred Meyer mainly made and exhibited (painted) enamels. Beside that he did some watercolours and pottery. He also taught and published the art of enamel. His themes and way of painting was rather classical. At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Meyer showed works he had exhibited before at the Salon, where he exhibited almost yearly. Still he adhered to the idea of independent societies of artists. He therefor co-founded the ‘Société Anonyme…‘ in 1873 and ‘L’Union’ in 1875. But further more he was no Impressionist. See pictures for an impression of his work.
Meyer (Alfred) only joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition Meyer showed 6 works (catalogue numbers 87-91bis), including 5 enamels and 1 drawing; 4 works rendered figures; 2 works were after Raphaël. (R2,p121) 5 of these works he had (probably) exhibited before at the Salon from 1869-72. So maybe for Meyer exhibiting at the ‘impressionist’ exposition was an opportunity of giving a small overview of his recent work and of selling works that were still in his own possession. The fact that Levert only exhibited the drawing of the enamel ‘Idylle’ (which he partly simultaneously exhibited at the Salon), probably meant that he regarded exhibiting at the Salon as more important than exhibiting with the Impressionists. (iR1) This was also the first and last time that he did. See link for an account.
Alfred Meyer at the Salon:
Alfred Meyer made his debut at the Salon in 1864. (Some wrongly mention 1863;iR4). In 1866 he won a medal. (iR1;iR69;R3;aR1;iR16). In 1868 / 69 / 70 / 74 / 75 / 82 / 83 he exhibited ‘exempté’ and 1884 onwards ‘hors concours’. He yearly exhibited at the Salon from 1864 until at least 1886 and probably 1905, accept in 1873 and 1879. Meyer was not in the catalogue of the Salon-des-Refusés of 1873. Meyer probably also exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts from 1890-99 and in 1902. (iR1)
Almost all the works he exhibited were enamels. In 1875 he exhibited also a watercolour. Several of his works were copies of his teacher Lévy, Raphaël and other classical painters. Many of his works depicted classical themes and portraits. See account.
Alfred Meyer was a founder of ‘L’Union’:
Meyer was one of the co-founders / members of the ‘Société Anonyme…‘ (R2,p105). Due to financial debts it was terminated in 1873/12/17 (R5,p85). In August 1875 Meyer, Pissarro and others founded an alternative group under the name ‘l’Union’. It was structured more as a trades union, than a company. Meyer and Pissarro both were socialists. Meyer was the secretary of the group. He was a key figure in organizing their first exhibition, which opened 1877/02/15 at the Grand Hôtel, boulevard des Capucines, near the Paris Opera. But most of the impressionist painters who had joined the group withdrew beforehand, including Pissarro, Cézanne and Guillaumin. Cézanne warned Pissarro against Meyer, that he was jealously trying to undermine the Impressionists with this rival group. The exhibition did not attract much attention. (aR1;R5,p91+100;R4,p151+6)
Alfred Meyer as an artist:
Alfred Meyer was a highly accomplished painter in enamel, usually on copper but also on porcelain (aR1). He is summed up as a painter, enameller and potter, but he merely was an enameller (iR69;iR4). He also was a stained painter; works are to be seen in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris and in the Musée Crazatier in Puy (iR16).
Alfred Meyer was a student of François Édouard Picot and after that of Émile Lévy (iR4;iR1;R9; iR69;R3;iR16). At the Salon of 1864-66 Lévy was not mentioned as his teacher (iR1). Lévy himself was a pupil of Picot (iR3).
Meyer his style is often very classical (in his paintings) and has no relationship to the impressionist style (iR4;R16). He also made paintings in the troubadour genre with deep colours (R9). He was original in his decorative arts (iR4).
Denvir also calls him an entrepreneur and a parttime dealer (R5,p91+100). I didn’t find this confirmed in other sources.
In 1866 Meyer made a Cardinal ring with a miniature enamel painting of St. Peter (aR7).
Data about Alfred-Bernard Meyer:
- 1832/07/22: Alfred-Bernard Meyer was born in Paris (iR69;iR60;iR1;R9;R3;R2;iR4).
Some sources mention (the option) that Meyer was born in 1833 (iR60). He was also named Bernard-Alfred Meyer (aR2).
- 1858-71: worked at the porcelain factory (manufacture national or impérial) in Sèvres (aR2;iR69;iR4;R3). At the Salon of 1864 (no.2354) Meyer exhibited an enamel portrait of Louis Robert, who was the leader of the painters over there. Later Meyer would work in the houses of Vever and Falize as well as independently (aR1).
- Meyer lived in Nogent-sur-Marne and later in Paris (R9).
- 1864?-1870ca.: Alfred Meyer lived at the Grande-Rue, 76 in Sèvres (iR1)
- 1872: Meyer lived at the Rue de Dunkerque, 44, Paris (iR1)
- 1874-80: Meyer lived at the Rue de Dunkerque, 57, Paris (iR1)
Note: in the catalogue 1874 Moffett printed the original house number was corrected in 57 (R2,p121).
- Taught at the Bernard-Palissy school in Paris (iR69;iR4;R3).
Meyer taught the delicate technique of painting on enamel (iR70).
One of his pupils was Claudius(-Marcel) Popelin (iR70)
- 1881-86?: lived at 78, boulevard de Strasbourg, Nogent-sur-Marne (iR1)
- 1886: also live at 62, rue de Lancry, Paris (iR1)
- 1895: published ‘L’art de l’émail de Limoges ancien et moderne, Traité pratique et scientifique‘ (The art of Enamel in Limoges) (aR3;R3;iR69;iR4;R9)
Meyer had rediscovered the technical process that had been used by the old Limousin enamellist in the Middle Ages (iR69;iR4;R9) of staining / burn-in painting (R3). Limousin was an old region in the middle of France with Limoges as capital.
- 1904/07/?: Alfred-Bernard Meyer died in Paris (iR69;iR60;iR70;R9;R3;R2;iR4)
My main sources are Moffett (1986, R2,p121), Walther (2013, R3,p680), Roe (2006;R4), Denvir (1993, R5), Schurr & Cabanne (2008,p528;R9), Spiess (1992,p212;R16), the Salon database (iR1), French Wikipedia (iR4), ULAN (iR60), Bénézit (iR69) and Grove Art (iR70). For other general references (=R) see. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
Allgemeines Künsterlexikon (2009;R81)
- Vanished French Impressionists 8 (an article on eclecticlight = iR35)
- collections.vam.ac.uk (vase)
- ccfr.bnf.fr (info on the publication of Meyer in 1895)
- books.google (preview of this book)
- MAD Paris (portrait made by Meyer)
- TEFAF catalogue 20110317 (PDF; p20+21 on Alfred Meyer’s portrait of St. Jean de la Croix)
- couturenotebook.com (about a ring made by Alfred Meyer)
- 1stdibs.com (a necklace with a enamel plaque of Alfred Meyer)