Joseph Fortuné Séraphin Layraud

Joseph Fortuné Séraphin Layraud, “Étude de Torse”, 1861, Oil on Canvas, 100 x 81 cm, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France

Born in October of 1833 at the commune of La-Roche-sur-le-Buis, Joseph Fortuné Séraphin Layraud was a French painter and, in his later years, a professor at Académie des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes. The son of Jean Pierre Paul Layraud and Marie Anne Amic, he painted historical scenes, landscapes, religious and mythological subjects, and portraits.

Joseph Layraud began his initial art training in 1853 at the historic port city of Marseille. He relocated to Paris in 1856 and studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts under Léon Cogniet and Tony Robert-Fleury, both painters of portraits and historical scenes. After finishing his studies, Layraud traveled to Rome where he took up residence at the Villa Medici until 1870. He distinguished himself as a painter of history and portraits; the work he exhibited at the 1863 Rome Exhibition won the Grand Prix de Rome. 

After his stay in Rome, Layraud traveled through Italy and Portugal where he produced primarily landscapes and portraits. He entered several works at the 1872 Paris Salon for which he was awarded medals. In 1876, Layraud painted the “Portrait of the Portuguese Royal Family” which portrayed the members of the ruling House of Braganza, King Luis I dressed in a hunter’s outfit, his wife Maria Pia of Savoy, and their two children, Carlos I and Infante Afonso. This painting is now housed in the Palácio Nacional da Ajuda in Lisbon. Layraud’s two portraits of Queen Maria Pia, executed in the same year, are also housed in this national collection,

While in Lisbon, Joseph Layraud also painted a portrait of Elisa Friederike Hensler, Countess of Edla. She was a Swiss-born American actress and singer, who married the former King Ferdinand II of Portugal, Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. After leaving Portugal, Layraud returned to France where he exhibited his work in both the 1889 and 1900 Expositions Universelles held in Paris. In recognition of his work, Layraud was appointed Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1890, with a later promotion to Officer in 1903.

In 1892, Layraud received an appointment as professor at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Valenciennes. Among his many pupils were such artists as Naturalist painter and printmaker Jules Chaine, portrait painter Max Albert Decrouez, and Lucien Hector Jonas, a painter of both religious and military scenes. Joseph Layraud lived in Valenciennes until his death in October of 1913; he is buried at the Communal Cemetery of St. Roch in Valenciennes. 

Layraud’s work can be found in the Musée d’Orsay, Valenciennes’s Musée des Beaux-Arts, the Ajuda National Palace, Musée Saint-Loup in Troyes, and the Smith College Museum of Art in Massachusetts, among others.

Top Insert Image: Joseph Layraud, “The Artist in His Studio”, (Recto), 1899, Oil on Canvas, 97 x 66 cm, Private Collection

Bottom Insert Image: Joseph Layraud, “Der Morgen Danach (The Morning After)”, 1884, Oil on Panel, Dimensions and Location Unknown

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