The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Alphonse Legros, 1837-1911

Nationality: French
Date of Birth: 1837.05.08
Place of Birth: Dijon
Date of Death: 1911.12.08
Place of Death: Watford


Alphonse Legros, painter, etcher and art teacher.


Legros painted portraits, landscape, genre and historical subjects. He had studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and worked as a scene-painter. During the late 1850s, he met JW through Fantin Latour in Paris and for a while, JW, Fantin and Legros became the 'Société de Trois', which was formed in October 1858. In May 1863, Legros and JW together visited Amsterdam. Legros settled in London in the summer of 1863 and the left hand male figure in Wapping (YMSM 35), was described by Rossetti: it was 'done from Alphonse Legros, though painted in from him just as he was in the first instance, is to be quite differently continued, to represent a sort of Spanish sailor'. By April 1867, the friendship between JW and Legros was over, after a row thatcame to blows. Friends tried to intervene (see #11312) but the two men were never reconciled. The reasons for their dispute are unclear but it has been suggested that Legros became jealous when JW assisted Fantin Latour in obtaining a commission to copy the works of old masters. However, Du Maurier describes Legros as having received the same or a similar commission. They also seem to have had a protracted quarrel about money dating back to 1864, and another dispute involving Legros' marriage (see #02505). Legros' place in the 'Société de Trois' was taken by Albert Moore.

His work was collected by Aleco Ionides, and he became Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College, London between 1876-1892. He was affiliated with the RE, Royal Academy, 1864-1889; Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery and elsewhere, 1864-1882.

Legros became a naturalised British citizen in 1880.


Du Maurier, Daphne, ed., The Young George du Maurier: A Selection of his Letters, 1860-67, London, 1951, p. 248; Wood, Christopher, The Dictionary of Victorian Artists 2nd ed., revised, Woodbridge, 1978; Monneret, Sophie, L'Impressionisme et son époque, Paris, 1978-79; Ionides, Luke Memories, Paris, 1925, reprinted with an afterword by Julia Ionides, Ludlow, 1996, p. 13.