Meyer, Alfred



Impressionism: partaker of the first ‘impressionist’ exposition

Alfred Meyer


a classic enamelist inclined to independence


Alfred Meyer was merely an enamellist:
Alfred Meyer only joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. He showed 6 art-works he had exhibited before at the Salon, where he exhibited almost yearly. Meyer mainly made and exhibited (painted) enamels. Beside that he did some watercolours and pottery. He also taught and published about the art of enamel. His themes and way of painting was rather classical. Still, Meyer adhered to the idea of independent societies of artists. He therefore co-founded the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc in 1873 and ‘L’Union‘ in 1875. In 1892 he joined the independent Salon de la Société National des Beaux-arts. 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 Alfred Meyer showed 6 works (catalogue numbers 87-91bis), including 5 enamels and 1 drawing; 4 works rendered figures; 2 works were made after art-works of 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 Meyer exhibited only the drawing of the enamel ‘Idylle’, probably meant that he regarded exhibiting at the Salon (at which he exhibited around the same time the enamel itself) as more important than exhibiting at the ‘impressionist’ exposition (iR1). There was only one review of Burty writing ’the superb enamels of M. Alfred Meyer’ (R87,p262). This was also the first and last time that he did exhibit at the ‘impressionist’ expositions. See link for an account.


Alfred Meyer regional exhibitions and at the Salon:
In his early years Alfred Meyer exhibited at some regional exhibitions, namely in Toulouse (1862) and Lille (1866).
Meyer made his debut at the Salon in 1864. (Some wrongly mention 1863; iR4). He yearly exhibited at the Salon (and its successor the Société des Artistes Français) from 1864 until 1891. He did so almost yearly except in 1873 +1879 +1887 +1889 +1890. (Note: Meyer was not in the catalogue of the Salon-des-Refusés of 1873.)  In 1866 he won a medal for painting on email (R259;iR1;iR69;R3;aR1;R16;R87;R88). In 1868 / 69 / 70 / 74 / 75 / 82 / 83 he exhibited ‘exempté’ and 1884-1888 ‘hors concours’. Mostly this means that Meyer more often received medals, but the ‘Explication’ only mentions the 1866 medal (R337).
Alfred(-Bernard) Meyer exhibited at the more independant Salon de la Société nationale des Beaux-Arts from 1892-1901. From 1893-96 Meyer was called Associé and from 1897-1901 Sociétaire. (iR1).
Almost all the works he exhibited were enamels and/or art-objects. In 1875 he exhibited also a watercolour. Several of his works were copies of his teacher Lévy, of Raphaël and of other classical painters. Many of his works depicted classical themes and portraits. Some of his works were applied art. See account.


Alfred Meyer was a founder of ‘L’Union’:
Meyer is mentioned by Moffett as co-founder of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc (R2,p105). Due to financial debts it was terminated in 1874/12/17 (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. BéliardCézanne, Guillaumin and Latouche also did join. Meyer meanwhile did oppose the ‘impressionist’ expositions and especially Monet. In a letter (1876/07/02) to Pissarro, Cézanne maked clear that he preferred the ‘impressionist’ expositions. Cézanne warned Pissarro against Meyer, that he jealously tried to undermine the Impressionists with this rival group. Meyer was a key figure in organizing the first exhibition of L’Union, 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, Guillaumin. The exhibition did not attract much attention. (aR1;R5,p91+100;R4,p151+6;R1,p362/3+375/6+390)


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 (glass) painter; works are to be seen in the Musée des Arts décoratifs in Paris and in the Musée Crazatier in Puy (iR16;M6;M178?).
Alfred Meyer was a student of François Édouard Picot and after that of Émile Lévy (iR4;iR1;R9; iR69;R3;R16;R87;R259). 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).


Alfred Meyer working in Sèvres and elswhere:
From 1857 (or 1858) till 1871 Meyer worked at the porcelain factory (manufacture national or impérial) in Sèvres (aR11;aR9;iR4;aR2;iR69;iR4;R3;R87;R88). From 1863 till 1871 he was designer (R87;R88). Around 1862 one of his pupils was Claudius(-Marcel) Popelin (aR12;iR70). Félix Bracquemond also did work at this factory in 1871 for some months. At the Salon of 1864 (no.2354) Meyer exhibited an enamel portrait of Louis Robert, who was the leader of the painters over there. Félix Bracquemond also made an etch of him (see 1IE-1874-24-1). He would also make an etch of Meyer-Heine in 1872, who was chef of the enamellors (see 1IE-1874-24-2); I wonder if he was related to Alfred Meyer and if they worked together. From around 1864 till around 1870 Alfred Meyer would  live at the Grande-Rue, 76 in Sèvres (iR1). The Sèvres museum City of Ceramiques must have works of Alfred Meyer (R87;R88;aR10). In the 1895 publication Meyer is still called ‘artiste peintre de la manufacture nationale de Sèvres’ (aR12).
After 1871 Meyer would work in the houses of Vever and Falize as well as independently (aR1).


Data about Alfred-Bernard Meyer:

  • 1832/07/22: Alfred-Bernard Meyer was born in Paris (iR69;iR60;iR1;R9;R3;R2;iR4;iR26).
    Some sources mention (the option) that Meyer was born in 1833 (iR60). He was also named Bernard-Alfred Meyer (aR2).
  • Meyer lived in Nogent-sur-Marne and later in Paris (R9).
  • 1858-61: Meyer made a decorative pieces for the manufacture de Sèvres; Joconde renders the address 56, Rue du Four (iR23)
  • 1864?-1870ca.: Alfred Meyer lived at the Grande-Rue, 76 in Sèvres (iR1;R259)
  • 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;R87;R88).
    Meyer taught the delicate technique of painting on enamel (iR70).
    One of his pupils was Claudius(-Marcel) Popelin (iR70)
    In the 1895 publication he was called ‘ancien professeur de l’école municipal Bernard-Palissy’ (aR12)
  • 1881-86?: lived at 78, boulevard de Strasbourg, Nogent-sur-Marne (iR1)
  • 1886: also lived at 62, rue de Lancry, Paris (iR1)
  • 1888: lived in Nogent-sur-Marne, rue des Hautes-Marnes (iR1)
  • 1891-1895: lived at 9, rue Saint-Lazare (iR1)
  • 1895: published ‘L’art de l’émail de Limoges ancien et moderne, Traité pratique et scientifique’  (The art of Enamel in Limoges) (aR12;aR3;R3;iR69;iR4;R9;R87;R88)
    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), of transparant colouring (aR12). Limousin was an old region in the middle of France with Limoges as capital.
  • 1896-99: lived at 16, rue Chappe (iR1)
  • 1901: lived at 8, rue Chappe (XVIIIe arrondissement) (iR1)
  • 1904: Alfred-Bernard Meyer died in Paris, in July (iR69;iR60;iR70;R9;R3;R2;iR4) or in June (iR26)


In books and webpages about Impressionism Alfred Meyer is hardly or not mentioned (R6;R8;R17;R18;R19;R22;R86;R94;R95;R102;iR23). There is no English Wikipedia page on him (iR3). The gallica database renders many data on Alfred Meyer, but mostly it doesn’t seem to apply to our enamellist (iR40). Searching for this name you’ll often find a German Nazi official or a Swiss politician. My main sources are Rewald (1973=R1), Moffett (1986=R2,p121), Walther (2013=R3,p680), Roe (2006=R4), Denvir (1993=R5), Schurr & Cabanne (2008,p528=R9), Spiess (1992,p212=R16), Dayez (1974=R87), Moffett (1978-81=R88,p526), 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.
Further reading:
Allgemeines Künsterlexikon (2009;R81)

Additional references:

  1. Vanished French Impressionists 8 (an article on eclecticlight = iR35)
  2. (vase)
  3. (info on the publication of Meyer in 1895)
  4. (preview of this book)
  5. MAD Paris (portrait made by Meyer)
  6. TEFAF catalogue 20110317 (PDF; p20+21 on Alfred Meyer’s portrait of St. Jean de la Croix)
  7. (about a ring made by Alfred Meyer)
  8. (a necklace with a enamel plaque of Alfred Meyer)
  9. nationale de Sèvres (info an the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres where Meyer worked from 1858-1871; =iR3)
  10. (website of the museum Sèvres City of Ceramics)
  11. nationale de Sèvres (info in French on the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres where Meyer worked from 1857-1871; =iR4)
  12. (online PDF publication of the book of Meyer on the art of enamel in 1895; =iR19)
  13. (website of the Museum of decorative arts in Paris, that holds works of Alfred Meyer (R88;R87)
  14. (website of the Crozatier museum in Puy-en-Velay, that holds works of Alfred Meyer (R88)


Recommanded citation: “Partaker of the first ‘impressionist’ exposition: Alfred Meyer; a classic enamelist inclined to independence. Last modified 2024/02/28.”