Robert, Léon-Paul-Joseph


Impressionism, the partakers of the expositions:

Léon-Paul-Joseph (Léopold) Robert (1849-1888?)

a vanished partaker of the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874

with a common name



Léopold Robert only joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Robert (Léopold) showed at least 3 works (catalogue numbers 159+160) (R2,p123;R90I,p8;R87,p253). No. 160 contained at least two watercolours. Walther writes about exhibiting ’two watercolours’ (R3), but it is not indicated that no. 159 was a watercolour and than mostly it is an oil painting. Robert was not mentioned in the reviews (R90II,p12;R87,p253). Probably Pissarro had ruled Robert out from exhibiting again, because he was not ‘firmly committed to departing from official art’ (R116I,p166).

  • 1IE-1874-159        Jeunes filles dans les foins en fleurs.
    (Eng.: Youngs girls in the hay and flowers.)
  • 1IE-1874-160        Cadre , aquarelles.
    (Eng.: picture frame, watercolours)

(Léon-)Paul-Joseph Robert exhibited at the Salon from 1879-1883:
Robert exhibited at the Salon and it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, from 1879-1883 (iR1;R9;R3;R87;R88). Schurr & Cabanne (R9) mention that he exhibited watercolours, which is not affirmed in the catalogues (iR1). In the Salon database (iR1) he is mostly called ‘Paul-Joseph Robert’ and in 1879 ‘Léon-Paul-Joseph Robert’. He was born in Bagneux just south of Paris (iR9). Robert was a pupil of Bonnat (and of Puvis de Chavannes). All these years he lived at 16, Rue de Navarin, Paris (see map). 

  • S1879-2565, La présentation à la supérieure.
    Eng.: The presentation at the superieur.
  • SdAF-1880-3276, L’entrée dans la danse.
    Additional info: 180x150cm. (Eng.: the entry of the dance.)
  • SdAF-1880-3277, Au cloître.
    Additional info: 52x33cm; au salle 26 = non exempts.
    (Eng.: At the cloister. Ned.: De kloostergang / de kruisgang.)
  • SdAF-1881-2025, Portrait de Mlle ***.
    (Eng.: Portrait of misses ***)
  • SdAF-1882-2308, Avant la leçon.
    (Eng.: Before the lesson.)
  • SdAF-1883-2070, A l’école.
    (Eng.: At the school)
  • SdAF-1883-2071, La leçon de danse.
    (Eng.: the dance lesson)



What is known about the unknown Léon-Paul-Joseph (Léopold) Robert?
The Getty Institute mentions a ‘Léon Paul Joseph Robert’ born in 1849 and still active in 1883 (iR60). Getty confirms he was born in Bagneux, just south of Paris (iR9). This is also confirmed by the RKD (iR24), referring to the ‘dictionnaire critique…’ of Emmanuel Bénézit (1999=R76). We have already seen this first name ‘Léon-Paul-Joseph’ in the Salon database (iR1; see above). It is striking that the third first name ‘Joseph’ is added to the ‘Léon Paul’ that Moffett and Walther use. It is even more striking that the first name ‘Léopold’ that is used in the catalogue of 1874, doesn’t return anywhere (except in the name of other painters, who are also called Robert↓).

So Léon-Paul Robert was born in 1849 in Bagneux (about 10km south of Paris, see map) (R87;R2,p508;R3;R9;R88). Robert was a pupil of Bonnat and Puvis de Chavannes (R9;R3;R87;R88;iR1). Robert joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 (R1,p316;R2;R9;R16;R87;R88;R90). By then he was about 25. In the 1874 catalogue there were two addresses mentioned: Barbizon (Seine-et-Marne; see map) and: Paris, 12, Rue Linné (see map) (R2,p123;R90I,p8). It is not known if he exhibited elsewhere before or did admit to the Salon and was rejected. Walther (R3) calls him a co-founder of the ‘Société des peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs‘ leaving it vague if this is the same as the ‘Société Anonyme des artistes…’ of which Moffett doesn’t include him as a co-founder (R2,p105). Still Wildenstein confirms that Robert accepted the invitation of Monet to sign in (R22I,p107; it is interesting to know if there is more information to be derived from the correspondence of Monet). In 1874 Robert showed at least two untitled watercolours (1IE-1874-160). He also showed an oil painting depicting probably young girls lying in the hay and covered with flowers. This could be painted en-plein-air and it looks like something in the middle of a figure painting and a landscape. Rewald mentions that he was present at the liquidation of the ‘Société Anonyme des artistes …’ 1874/12/17 in Renoir his studio (R1,p366).

The next time he exhibited (as far as I know), was in 1879 at the Salon. He would exhibit there 5 years at a row, including at it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, for the last time when he was about 34 years old. These years, 1879-1883, he lived at 16, Rue de Navarin, Paris (see map). It is striking that most of the oil paintings he exhibited at the Salon, seem to depict dancing lessons, which gives an association with Degas. Mostly figure painting anyway. This is also the case with the only two works I could find of Robert on the internet (see below). These two portraits look more formal, yet there is a touch of playfulness. The ‘young woman holding a violin’ gives me an association with Marie Bracquemond and ‘Girl with dog’ with Charles Chaplin.
I received a picture with a dancing / ballet scene. At the back with infra red photos one can read the name ‘Louis Joseph Robert’ or something like that; the ‘Louis’ part is the most obscure. When we look at other painters called ‘Robert’ there is no one with the first name Louis. The dancing / ballet scene is a theme that is similar to works exhibited at the Salon by our (Léon-) Paul-Joseph Robert. So I will render it as a possible painting made by our Robert and as being possibly exhibited at the Salon. To be more sure, there should be more study on what paintings were made by the other Robert’s.

Pissarro wrote to Léon-Paul Robert (1880/03/14): ‘… it’s very hard for me to defend your interests, having ruled you out since our first exhibition. We want artists who are firmly committed to departing from official art’ (R116I,p166). Schurr & Cabanne write that his partaking in 1874 does not mean that the painter adhered to their vision. They call him a genre painter and mention that his painting ‘La Colonne Vendôme renversée’ (musée d’Art et d’histoire in Saint-Denis) is of an impressive Realism (R9). Others also call him a genre painter (R88;R87). In all the titles he exhibited, there is no indication of place, time of day, weather or season. So probably in the first years Robert was loosely connected to the impressionist art-movement, but there are no signs that he painted in an impressionist painting style.


At the Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris (see iR4) is a tomb ‘de la familles Harmand, Pitou et Robert’, including this inscription: ‘Joseph Léon Paul ROBERT, 39 ans et 5 mois, Alger 21 9bre 1888‘ (see iR6). So this Joseph Léon Paul Robert was born April 1849 and died 1888/09/21 in Alger. This date of birth is the same as our painter and so are all the three first names, so let’s assume our painter is buried in this tomb. Family search on the internet doesn’t provide extra information (iR67).
Spiess only mentions him as partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition, but doesn’t even mention him in the register (R16,p371). Other sources don’t mention Robert at all. An article about vanished French Impressionists can’t give information and calls Robert ’truly vanished’ (aR1=iR35). I hope in the next years there will be more information and works found about Léon-Paul-Joseph (Léopold) Robert.


Other painters with the last name Robert:
La Gazette (1870/04) mentions 9 artists with the last name Robert (R259). In 1879 there were 8 other artists with the last name ‘Robert’ at the Salon (iR1). Schurr & Cabanne mention 8 painters with the last name ‘Robert’ (R9,p626/7): Léopold (1794-1835; often exhibited at the Salon; painted often in Italy), Aurèle (1805-1871; Swiss, born in Chaux-de-Fond; received in 1831 a 2nd class medal in genre painting; brother of Léopold), Alphonse (1807-1880ca; landscapist born in Sèvres; received in 1831 a second class medal in landscape painting), Victor (1813-1888; born in Puy; pupil of Ingres; exhibited in the 1840s at the Salon; received in 1845 a 3rd class medal in history painting and again in 1857), Léo-Paul (1851-1923; Swiss; son of Aurèle; Symbolist), Paul (1857-1925; born in Paris; exhibited in 1874 at the Salon; connections with Degas and Raffaëlli; painted in the line of Ingres), Théophile (1879-1954; son of Léo-Paul).
La Gazette (1870/04) also mentioned: a Robert living at Clermont-Ferrand; Alexandre (a Belgian, born in Trazegnies, than living 44, Rue du Commerce in Brussels; pupil of M. Navez; received in 1855 a 3rd class medal in portrait painting); Annet-Pierre (born in Turenne, living 49, Rue de Lille, Paris; pupil of Alaux); Charles-Jules (born in Chartres, living 14, Rue Durantin, Paris; pupil at the École des Beaux-Arts and of M. Chapon; painter and engraver on wood); Charlemagne (born in Corbeil (Seine-et-Oise); living at 7, Rue Duperré, Paris; pupil of Picot); Eugène (born in Paris; living at 16, Rue Bichat, Paris; pupil of M. Lequien) (R259).
Wikipedia (iR3) and WikiData (iR66) only mention a ‘Louis Léopold Robert‘ being a Swiss painter (1794-1835; see R9). A nephew of him, Léo-Paul Robert (1851-1923/4; see R9) also was a painter (aR2). At auction sites there is also a Belgian painter mentioned with the name ‘Leopold Robert‘ who was born in 1850 and died in 1935 (iR11; iR16; iR41; compare R9). Works known of him are a self-portrait, harbour scènes in Cannes and a work titled ‘pleading to the virgin Marie’. Auction sites also mention a ‘Léon Paul Joseph Robert‘ using the same information as the Getty Institute gives (iR12; iR13, iR16; iR41; iR45). Blouin also mentions an oil painting with the title ‘Mediterranean coastal landscape with sailing boats’ (41x51cm) dated 1922, which would mean our Robert was still alive at the age of 73 (iR12); it was auctioned 1990/11/24 in Munich. I think it more likely this work belonged to Léo-Paul (1851-1923) or Paul (1857-1925) as mentioned in Schurr & Cabanne (R9,p626/7). In May 1884 there was a Léon Robert, a Frenchman, living in Marlotte (Seine-et-Marne), exhibiting at the Groupe des Artistes Indépendants, showing a landscape called ‘Sous-bois’ (iR40). All this makes it hard and important to discern who is who and what painting belongs to whom.


My main sources are Moffett (1986=R2), Berson (1996=R90), Walther (2013=R3,p692), Schurr & Cabanne (2008=R9,p626), Dayez / Adhémar (1874=R87,p253), Monneret (1878-81=R88I,p764), Rewald (1873=R1,p316+336), Spiess (1992=R16,p371) and the Salon database (iR1). 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.

Additional references (=aR):

  1. vanished French Impressionists (article also about Robert; =iR35)
  2. (gyneacology of family, also painters)
  3. (1888/01/23 Hôtel Drouot sale with 1 work of a ‘Robert’: no.84, Bords de Marne, fusain; =iR40)
  4. (Collection de feu de Ed. L. Jacobson de la Haye with 1 work of a Léopold Robert, no. 66, étude de femme romaine, 35x26cm; =iR19)
  5. pictures rendered to me by others
  6. x


Recommanded citation: “Léon-Paul-Joseph (Léopold) Robert, a vanished partaker of the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874, with a common name. Last modified 2023/04/11.”