Bonnat was an academic painter as well as a teacher who encouraged freedom of expression and execution. He recommended traveling to Madrid to visit the Prado Museum, introduced Paris to Spanish painting technique, and influenced the evolution of French painting.
Jean Léglise (1813–1876) was the mayor of Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx, a small town near Bayonne in southwestern France. A trader in wood, he made a fortune from the construction of the railroad between Bayonne and Bordeaux. Bonnat painted a companion portrait of Léglise's wife, Maire-Augusta-Julie Léglise (1812–1894). The latter portrait, also signed and dated 1868, was donated to the Musée Carnavalet in Paris in 2001.
Portrait of Jean Léglise, Merchant, Mayor of Saint-Martin-de-Seignanx
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