Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton (1 May 1827 – 5 July 1906) was a 19th-century French Realist painter. His paintings are heavily influenced by the French countryside and his absorption of traditional methods of painting helped make Jules Breton one of the primary transmitters of the beauty and idyllic vision of rural existence.
Early life and training
Breton was born on 1 May 1827 in Courrières, a small Pas-de-Calais village. His father, Marie-Louis Breton, supervised land for a wealthy landowner. His mother died when Jules was 4 and he was brought up by his father. Other family members who lived in the same house were his maternal grandmother, his younger brother, Émile, and his uncle Boniface Breton. A respect for tradition, a love of the land and for his native region remained central to his art throughout his life and provided the artist with many scenes for his Salon compositions.
His first artistic training was not far from Courrières at the College St. Bertin near Saint-Omer. He met the painter Félix De Vigne in 1842 who, impressed by his youthful talent, persuaded his family to let him study art.
Breton left for Ghent in 1843 where he continued to study art at the Academy of Fine Arts with de Vigne and the painter Hendrik Van der Haert. In 1846, Breton moved to Antwerp where he took lessons with Egide Charles Gustave Wappers and spent some time copying the works of Flemish masters. In 1847, he left for Paris where he hoped to perfect his artistic training at the École des Beaux-Arts.
In Paris he studied in the atelier of the Michel Martin Drolling. He met and became friends with several of the Realist painters, including François Bonvin and Gustave Brion and his early entries at the Paris Salon reflected their influence.