Alexandre Jean-Baptiste Brun

Alexandre Jean-Baptiste Brun (Marseille, November 3, 1853-Marseille, November 5, 1941) was a French painter, pupil of Alexandre Cabanel , Carolus-Duran and Felix Bracquemond . [1] He is especially known for his many marine paintings and a collection of watercolors on dark wash representing orchids .


Alexandre Jean-Baptiste Brun was born in Marseille on November 3, 1853. He studied painting at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris , with masters such as Alexander Cabanel , Carolus-Duran and Felix Bracquemond . He painted with Adolphe Monticelli , Louis Tinayre and Henri Pinta . May 14, 1886, in the 14th arrondissement of Paris, married Lucile Dutheil, with whom he had three daughters and a son.

A marine painter, he made numerous illustrations for encyclopedias and books published by Sea of ​​Larousse editions.

An accomplished yachtsman, he accompanied Prince Albert 1st of Monaco on some of his oceanographic expeditions. The prince invited him to collaborate in the creation of the frescoes of the Grand Amphitheater of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris , for which he financed the construction.

Alexandre Brun also executed commissions for Baroness Nathaniel de Rothschild, Arthur and Edmond de Rothschild barons, and related, such as Louis Libreck, for whom he produced his most famous work: a series of watercolors immortalizing his friend’s collection of orchids. A prolific painter, he produced numerous family portraits, landscapes (banks of the Seine, Normandy coasts, Joliette Port, the calanques of Marseilles) as well as still lifes .

A member of the Salon of French Artists from 1877, he submitted works almost every year until 1934.

He exhibited in London at the Royal Academy in 1881 and 1882, and at the Universal Exhibition in 1889, during which he was awarded the Bronze Medal, Marine Section, before deciding to devote himself to various regions of France and Algeria. He resumed his activities again in 1914 to resume the end of the war until 1934, when he retired to Malmousque in his villa “The Hurricane”, exhibiting only at the Jouvene Gallery in Marseille.

He died in Marseilles on November 5, 1941.

Work and themes

A painter, engraver and poster artist, his works are paintings of the sea.

“Very early, whether it is the Mediterranean or darker seas, a particular technique is affirmed: plots of color for stones and pebbles, or even for the leaves which a path, crashing sea foam and waves form by brief brush strokes, overlapping gold layered, and the intense brightness of the beaches. ” [2]

He also produced numerous posters for the shipping companies, the Chargeurs Réunis , [3] the Messageries Maritimes and the Société Générale des Transports Maritimes à Vapeur, focusing on the intense activity of the quays with oils and quays with the wheat in Rive-Neuve in Marseille . He also participated in the production of sets for the Paris Opera.

Marine paintings

Alexander Brown painted many marine (oils on wood, canvas, watercolors), representing life at sea, scenes of life (The departure of the sailor, 1885, After a sinking, 1888), fishing or bathing (Of ​​sea, 1883), views of ports or ships (mainly three-masted and tartans). He also produced illustrations of important events (The capture of Sfax, 1882, President Carnot embarking aboard the Great 1890 [4]), watercolors of historic ships (The Royal Sun, Royal Louis) and lithographs of warships: The Marengo, The Ocean, The Suffren and The Sparrowhawk). Many of his navy paintings were entrusted to the National Museum of the Navy in 2002, where they were studied, classified, inventoried, restored and photographed. Most of them are currently held in the Marine Museum ‘s reserves at Chaillot, and will be transferred in 2016 to the new Conservation Center in Dugny .

Some paintings were exhibited on the spot, notably in 2003 for Shoreline Memories and in 2009 for Ten Years of Acquisitions . Two paintings are published in the book Escales at the Navy Museum [5] published in January 2016 by Gallimard.

These paintings, particularly representative of Alexandre Brun’s work, will be the subject of a publication and a virtual exhibit on the museum’s website.

Selected works are also held in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseille, especially two portraits of young people (1874 and 1878), a lithograph of the battleship Suffren , a wash representing the Old Port during the 2500th Anniversary of Marseille, and some posters .

With the painter Louis Tinayre , he made the frescos of the Grand Amphitheater of the Oceanographic Institute of Paris  ( fr ) . Louis Tinayre painted the characters while Alexander Brown, depicted the sea and the rigging . [6]

The main fresco, entitled The Princess Alice Bridge during a cruise encircles the high bay that separates the large room from the small one. Prince Albert I of Monaco, the patron of the institute, had organized at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Orchids

Alexandre Brun is also known for his famous collection of Orchids , commissioned by his friend, the passionate and wealthy Parisian collector Louis Libreck.

This meticulous work of documentation was lasted two years, from 1892 to 1894. He is the most beautiful of the collection, faithfully representing the most minute details of these rare, exotic flowers.

The collection of a hundred watercolors, forgotten for almost a century in the safe of an English bank, was exhibited for the first time around 1950, then a second time in 1981, when it received the Gold Medal of the Royal Horticultural Society of England.

This collection has-been immortalized in the book The Forgotten Orchids – Alexander Brown by Phil Cribb  ( nl ) , deputy curator of the Herbarium of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, a member of the Royal Horticultural Society of England and author of Several books on orchids . [7]


One of his most famous works is in the Louvre Museum . This is the View of the Square Salon. [8]

The artist painted the west wall, including a door overlooking the Great Gallery, and covered with paintings of all the schools. From 1848, the Salon Carré served as a platform for the masterpieces of the Louvre until the First World War.

This small oil painting on wood (32 cm long by 24 cm high) offers a faithful and meticulous image of the Salon Carré as it was in the 19th century. One can recognize the famous paintings by Veronese , Rubens , Leonardo da Vinci , Raphael and Poussin , among others.

Alexandre Brun also painted still life, landscapes and portraits.


An illustrator of books, dictionaries and encyclopedias, he collaborated with the major publications of the time: Illustration , Illustrated World , Yacht , etc. His experience led à son being white selected to Illustrate Almost all of the offshore section of the Illustrated Dictionary and thematic books Such As The Sea , The Sea in Nature , and The Sea and Manpublished by Larousse . He produced numerous technical boards, ships’ cuts, posters, and engravings on the theme of the sea and navigation.



  • Unforgettable Orchids, Alexandre Brun (The Forgotten Orchids of Alexandre Brun) by Phillip Cribb, Solar Editions, 1992
  • The review of the Louvre and the museums of France No. 2, 1989 [9]
  • A town?? a port, a port ?? cities , Marseille Fos ( Read )
  • Marseille, the cultural magazine of the city of Marseille They painted Marseille No. 244, Pierre Murat, April 2014, p. 99-107 ( Read )
  • Sea, Sea in Nature, Sea and Man , G. Clerc – Rampal, Larousse, 1913-1930


  1. Jump up^ Laran, Jean (1876-1948); Adhemar, John (1908-1987); photography, National Library (France) Department of Prints and (1942-01-01). Inventory of the French Fund after 1800 / National Library, Department of Prints. Third volume, Bocquin-Byon / by Jean Laran and Jean Adhémar . Paris: National Library.
  2. Jump up^ “# 244 – They painted in Marseille” . Retrieved 2017-04-16 .
  3. Jump up^ “Chargeurs Réunis … Line of Indochina.”
  4. Jump up^ “Illustrated catalog of the Salon of French Artists 1891 No. 247” .
  5. Jump up^ Mourot, Marjoram. Stopovers at the Marine Museum . ISBN  9782742445110 .
  6. Jump up^ Inizan, Christelle (2011-11-23). “The Oceanographic Institute of Paris” . In Situ. Heritage Review (in French) (17). doi : 10.4000 / insitu.865 . ISSN  1630-7305 .
  7. Jump up^ Cribb, Phillip. Unforgettable Orchids, Alexandre Brun (The Forgotten Orchids of Alexandre Brun) . ISBN  0802115004 .
  8. Jump up^ “View of the Carré lounge in the Louvre” .
  9. Jump up^ “The review of the Louvre and the Museums of France”. 1989. pp. 37-41. ISSN  0035-2608 .

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