Guillaume Bodinier was born in 1795 in Angers. After studying law and graduating in Paris in 1814, he began to frequent the studio of Jean Broc, a neo-classical painter who had himself been a pupil of Jacques-Louis David.
From 1817 onwards, he attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, under the guidance of Pierre-Narcisse Guérin and together with fellow students Eugène Delacroix and Théodore Géricault. From the outset, he was the interpreter of a technically impeccable style of painting, in which the figure plays the leading role: an elegant, clear chromaticism manages to turn bodies and objects, accompanied by a classical drawing line and a refined grazing light.
There is nothing out of place in Guillaume Bodiner’s painting and every chromatic mixture, every figurative detail, every variation of light responds to a precise compositional structure in which everything is tangible. Neoclassicism and the first hints of naturalism combine in a poetic of stylistic splendour, which visibly increases after his stay in Rome and after his refinement at the Villa Medici.
The Roman years: Villa Medici
When Master Guérin was appointed director of the Academy of France in Rome in 1822, Guillaume Bodinier was encouraged to follow him, even though he had participated twice in the Prix de Rome, without ever receiving a scholarship. In any case, he left with Guérin and stayed at the Villa Medici for five years. Five years that represented a stylistic and personal enrichment, due not only to his meeting with Corot and therefore to a refinement in the field of landscape painting, but also to a gradual definition of his language.
From purely neoclassical themes, he moved on to picturesque subjects or the narration of aristocratic everyday life, which almost seem to echo the optical sensitivity and stylistic subtlety of Jean-Étienne Liotard, especially in the rendering of intimate domestic images with a marked realism.
At the Paris Salon in 1827, at the end of his retirement, he exhibited La Demande en mariage, which won him the medal for the first class of painting. When he returned to Paris in the 1830s, he was continually on his way to Italy, where he returned several times, witnessing the succession between Guérin and Horace Vernet in the direction of the Academy of France and then the rise to the same position of Jean-August-Dominique Ingres in 1883.
In 1847, Guillaume Bodinier settled permanently in Maine-et-Loire, where he was appointed director of the Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers and knighted by the Legion of Honour in 1849. Among his most important works produced in Italy are: Contrat de mariage en Italie, kept at the Louvre, Paysanne de Frascati au confessionnal, Portrait de Casimir Lecomte devant le Stromboli at the Musée des Beoux-Arts in Angers and Les filles de Procida at the Musée d’Orsay.