Paul Albert Besnard (1849-1934) was one of the most popular French painters and a founding member of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris with Jean Bremond and Alexandre Cabanel. He painted portraits, nudes, wall decorations, and landscapes. His portraiture places him between academicism and impressionism. However, his success was due to the works created in the chromolism style, inspired by his travels to Algeria in 1892 and to India in 1910.*
Description of the painting:
“Horses Bitten by Flies” is one of the first foreign works purchased by E. A. Raczyński for his gallery of paintings. Its creation was inspired by the artist’s impressions from his trip to Algeria. Two purebred Arabian horses are depicted. They remain in constant motion, trying to ward off the flies that bother them on a hot day. The painting technique and color palette used are influenced by Impressionism. Light and color have taken over Besnard’s representations. The painting, in which “everything lives and vibrates”, gained the approval of critics and the audience. However, this did not protect the painter from negative opinions, accusing him of “endangering the principles of art he pandered to popular taste”.