Aimé Nicolas Morot was a French painter and sculptor in the Academic Art style.
Aimé Nicolas Morot, son of François-Aimé Morot and Catherine-Elisabeth Mansuy, was born in Rue d'Amerval 4 in Nancy on 16 June 1850, and spent his youth in Rue de la Colline in Boudonville. At age 12 he started his studies in drawing, painting and gravure printing at the l'Ecole Municipal de Dessin et de Peinture de Nancy under Thiéry and the director of the school Charles Sellier. He continued his studies in Nancy until the late 1860s and subsequently attended the workshop of Alexandre Cabanel at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, but could not study well in the noisy environment of Cabanel's workshop and left after having received two corrections by Cabanel. In the next two years he continued his studies independently studying in the Jardin des Plantes, where he developed his skills in observing and portraying animals. Despite his lack of attendance at the École, he won the Grand Prix de Rome in 1873 with his first submission, the Babylonian Captivity (Super Flumina Babylonis), which is currently in the collection of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
The fellowship allowed him to travel to Italy and become a resident of the Villa Medici, where the French Academy in Rome was housed. Morot rarely set foot in his workshop in the Villa Medici, but still regularly produced paintings. His first submission to the Salon de Paris was awarded a third-class medal for the painting Spring (Printemps) in 1876. In 1877 he was awarded a second-class medal for Médée, for which a Roman woman called Victoria served as his model. He subsequently received a first-class medal in 1879 for Les Ambronnes and the Medal of Honour for The Good Samaritan in 1880, competing against Joan of Arc by the realist painter Jules Bastien-Lepage, who had also studied under Cabanel. According to Brauer (2013) The Good Samaritan was a protest against the continued poor treatment of the Paris Communards after their defeat in 1871.
Morot returned to Paris in 1880, where he met painter Jean-Léon Gérôme and married Suzanne-Mélanie Gérôme (1867-1941), one of the painter's four daughters, at the Mairie Drouot (Paris 9eme Arrondissement, civil) and in the Sainte-Trinité church in 1887. Marriage witnesses included fellow painters Fernand Cormon and Charles Jalabert.
The family first lived in 18 rue de Chabrol, and in 1896 moved to a town house at 11 rue Weber, in Paris, the garden of which resembled a zoo housing snakes, lions, panthers, leopards and other exotic animals. He had two children, a daughter Aimée Morot (1901-1958) and a son Jean-Léon Morot (1908-1961). Suzanne-Mélanie Morot modelled for paintings in 1897 and, together with her daughter, in 1904. One of Morot's last contributions to the French Artists' Salon de Paris was a painting of his children called Brother and Sister (Frere et Soeur) in 1911.
In the 1880s, Morot worked at the Académie Julian, where he was a colleague of William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) with whom he co-supervised the British cartoonist and illustrator Sir Leonard Raven-Hill (1867-1935) in 1885 and 1886. After Gustave Moreau's death in 1898, he led Moreau's studio at the institute. Theodor Pallady (1871-1956) and Gaston Hippolyte Ambroise Boucart (fr) (1878-1962), former pupils of Gustave Moreau, continued their studies under Aimé Morot. Charles Louis Auguste Weisser (Montbéliard, 1864-1940) was a student of both Aimé Morot and Jean-Léon Gérôme. Other French painters and engravers that were supervised by Morot were Hippolyte-Auguste Fauchon, Charles Baude (fr) (1853-1935), Charles Lucien Marie Balay (1861-1943), Léon Fauché (1868-1951) and Henry Jacquier (1878-1921).
In 1900, he won the grand prix of the l'Exposition Universelle (Paris Exhibition) and in the same year became professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Henry Golden Dearth (Bristol, 1864), a bronze medal winner at the same Paris Exhibition of 1900, was one of his British students, as were Dawson Dawson-Watson (1864-1939) and James Whitelaw Hamilton (1860-1932).
His American apprentice artists included Benjamin Foster (1852-1926), Edmund Clarence Messer (1842-1919; elected Principal of Corcoran School of Art in 1902), Gaylord Sangston Truesdell (1850-1899), George Henry Bogert (1864-1944), Georgia Timken Fry (1864-1921), Eurilda Loomis France (1865-1931) and Herbert Haseltine (1877-1962).
In 1883 Morot was awarded the title of Chevalier (knight) in the Legion of Honour and in 1901 he became Officier (officer) in the Légion d'Honneur. As an academician and professor at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts who frequently exhibited at the French Artists' Salon in Paris and being a member of the painting jury, Aimé Morot was an influential person in the modern art centre of Paris, being among the 18 most influential members of the Institute and was included in Grün's painting "One Friday at the French Artists' Salon" in 1911. In 1912 he was awarded the distinction of Commandeur in the Légion d'Honneur.
In 1910, Morot ordered the construction of a second house outside Paris, Maison dite Ker Arlette in Dinard, a coastal village in North-east Brittany. He lived there until his death after a lengthy illness on 12 August 1913. His death mask was cast in bronze using Lost-wax casting by Fonderie Valsuani, with which he had collaborated for casting bronzes (e.g. Baigneuse debout, Torse de femme). Obituaries were published in the 13 August 1913 edition of Gil Blas, the 16 August 1913 edition of L'Illustration and the 24 August edition of L'Immeuble & la Construction dans l'Est.
Aimé Morot's brother was a well-known designer and locksmith in Nancy, who worked on the restoration of the 18th century gilded wrought-iron gates on Place Stanislas in Nancy, designed by Jean Lamour. His brother may have been the inspiration for his painting of The Blacksmith (Le Forgeron). His nephew Jacques Morot also became a painter and exhibited three paintings (portrait of an Arab Chleuch au chapelet, Despedida (l'adieu) and Château du Metz) in the Salon in 1922.
Morot had been attached to the General Staff of the French Army, which had given him ample opportunity to study cavalry men and horses. To study the movement of the horses he used his eye as a camera by the use of a simple device that he could open and close rapidly in front of his eyes to better isolate the movements. This allowed him to vividly paint several historic cavalry charges from the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Among the paintings exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français were Cavalry charge at Rezonville (1886), 3ème Cuirassiers a Helsass Hausen (1887) and Reischoffen (1887, exhibited in Musée de l'Histoire de France (Versailles)) and Prisonnier! or the Charge of cavalry at Gravelotte (1888).
After producing a number of classical and figure paintings at the beginning of his career (e.g. Hériodiade (1880), Le Bon Samaritain (1880), Jésus de Nazareth (1883), Temptation of St. Anthony, Dryade (1884)) he went on to become a society portraitist. Among others he painted Madame Bertinot (1880), Madame Agache (1881), Comtesse de Fontarce (1885), Son Altesse Royale la Duchesse d'Alençon Duchess Sophie Charlotte in Bavaria, Madame Archdeacon-Boisseaux (1895), Madame Méring (1895), Baron Alphonse James de Rothschild (1898), the painter Édouard Detaille (1899), Monsieur Gustave Eiffel (1905), the Duc de Doudeauville, Madame Aymé Darblay (1902), Pastor Goulden (1906), and Frère et Soeur (Brother and sister), which was exhibited at the Salon de Paris in 1911. Morot contributed to the Salon until 1912.
Morot excelled in portraying animals, which appeared in many of his other paintings, such as the horses in his historic cavalry paintings, a donkey in Le bon Samaritain, a pig in Temptation of Saint Anthony, a snake in La Charmeuse, lions in Lion before his Prey and Reclining Lions, Rex and Au Tableau, tigers in Tigre and Deux Tigres Combattant, dogs in Mademoiselle Brice and Jacques Goldschmid and a cat in the painting of his daughter Denise with Cat (1899).
His visits to Spain inspired him to Spanish motifs, such as the paintings of Toro Colante displayed at the Salon de Paris in 1885 and of which gravures were published in Le Monde Illustré in 1887 and El Bravo Toro!. which was exhibited in the Salon in 1884 and later featured on the cover of Les Annales politiques et littéraires after his death in 1913. These paintings were painted from memory after Morot had visited a series of bull fights in Spain.
Aimé Morot loved hunting and travelled extensively. In 1889 he travelled to Morocco in the company of the French novelist and naval officer Pierre Loti, where he made several orientalist drawings. In 1893 he went to India for tiger hunting. He also visited Turkey, Syria and Abyssinia (Ethiopia), where he was refused permission to hunt elephants and lions. In 1900 he visited Niger and French Sudan, where he did hunt and kill a large lion. This resulted in Au Tableau (1902), representing the return from the hunt with a killed lion being carried up on a river bank by Africans, which is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy. Although he travelled widely, he produced few works in the Orientalism genre. Arabs attacking an English outpost was part of the collection of Salvador de Mendonça until 1892. Morot's Dessert Warrior and the watercolour Fantasia was inspired by his travels to Morocco.
Most of Morot's work consists of oil paintings, although he used other media. Aimé Morot was a member of the Société d'aquarellistes Français and submitted the watercolour Hallah to their 1888 exhibition in Paris and painted the Battle of Reichshoffen using watercolours. He also painted the ceiling of the Grand Salon of the Hôtel de Ville in Nancy in 1902. Aimé Morot made various sculptures in marble and bronze. In 1905 he worked on a memorial for Jean-Léon Gérôme, which consisted of a group representing Gérôme working on his Gladiator sculpture. This sculpture is exhibited in the Jardin de l'Infante in one of the courts of the Louvre. At the same time he worked on a portrait of fellow painter Ernest Hébert for display at the Salon de Paris and was selected as a jury member for the next Salon in 1906.
For his oil paintings on canvas, Aimé Morot had a preference for a colour palette consisting of silver white, zinc white, yellow ochre, red ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium red, raw sienna, burnt sienna, cobalt blue, emerald green, rose madder, carmine lake and ivory black. His painting medium consisted of oil mixed with some turpentine or sometimes with copal. He would start his painting by making a rough outline of the entire subject on a well-dried oiled canvas using a brush or charcoal, then applied the paint. When the completed painting had dried for a long time, he finally applied a light varnish.