Famous Painters and Their Children

On June 1st, 1925, the World Conference for the Well-Being of Children held in Geneva, Switzerland, proclaimed June 1 to be International Children’s Day. Later, in 1954 the UN established a Universal Children’s Day on the 20th of November. Since there was no specific date for the holiday, various countries decided to celebrate children on different days (14th November in India, 1st June in Australia, 10th June in the States). DailyArt Magazine joins the celebration and shows you stories of famous painters and their children.

1. Jean and Michel Monet

Claude Monet, Jean Monet on his Hobby Horse, 1872, Metropolitan Museum of Art, famous painters and their children

Jean was Claude Monet’s first son with Camille Doncieux. He was four-month-old when his father had him painted for the first time. There are at least 11 paintings of him by his father but also other painters like Renoir painted him and his mother. This portrait was made in the summer of 1872 in the garden of the family house rented in Argenteuil near Paris when Jean was five years old. Monet kept the painting, and never exhibited it.

Claude Monet, Portrait of Michel in a Pompom Hat, 1880, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris

When Michel was born in 1878, Jean was 12 and their mother Camille was feeling weaker and weaker. She died a year after, of uterine cancer. However, he didn’t have a lonely childhood as he grew up in Paris with six children of an art collector Ernest Hoschedé and his wife Alice Hoschedé, who since 1877, a year in which the family went bankrupt, had been living with the Monets. There are at least three paintings by Claude featuring small Michel.

2. Marguerite, Jean, and Pierre Matisse

Henri Matisse, Portrait de Marguerite (The Reader), 1906, Musée de Grenoble, famous painters and their children

Henri Matisse had three children. He had a daughter Marguerite, born in 1894, with the model Caroline Joblau. When four years later he married Amélie Noellie Parayre, she raised Marguerite as her own. The couple had two sons together, Jean (born 1899) and Pierre (born 1900). Marguerite often served as a model for her father since as a sickly child she had to stay home with him. Although she was also a talented painter, she stopped painting and destroyed most of her works so that nobody would mistake her signature for that of her father’s. Instead, she continued to protect his legacy until her death at 87 in 1982.

Jay Fisher, the curator in Baltimore Museum of Art said:

Marguerite was the glue that held everyone together.

3. Lucienne Bisson, Pierre, Claude, and Jean Renoir

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Portrait of Pierre Renoir in a Sailor Suit, 1890, private collection, famous painters and their children

Pierre-Auguste Renoir had his first son in 1885 with Aline Victorine Charigot whom he married in 1890. She often modeled for him (you can see her in his famous Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881) and after their children were born, Renoir painted many scenes of their daily family life, including their children’s nurse, Aline’s cousin. The firstborn Pierre became a stage and film actor, Jean became a film director, and so did Claude.

Lucienne Bisson, Madame Griffon, c. 1930, private collection

Lucienne Bisson was Renoir’s illegitimate daughter. He had her before the marriage, in 1880 (or in 1884). Her mother was a painter and an activist Frédérique Vallet-Bisson and she was leading the Société Féminine des Artistes. She raised her daughter as a painter too and Lucienne was quite successful at Parisian Salons. She was most popular for city views and landscapes.

4. Emile, Aline, Clovis, Jean Rene, Paul Rollon “Pola”, Emile Gauguin (Emile Marae a Tai), and Germaine Huet

Paul Gauguin, Clovis, 1886, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ, famous painters and their children

Paul Gauguin had eight children and all of them were talented. All, except the eldest Emile, became artists. Yet, Gauguin didn’t take as much care of them as he might have wanted. At one point he confessed that he had sacrificed his family for his art as he never had enough money to support them.

Paul Gauguin, Interieur avec Aline Gauguin, 1881, Museums Sheffield, UK (on loan from a private collection)

He had 5 children with his wife Mette Sophie. Two of the five were his favorites. Aline and Clovis were the only ones immortalized in his art. However, both of them died young. To support the family, Mette had to move to Copenhagen, Denmark to live with her relatives while Paul kept on traveling and would rarely visit them.

Paul gauguin, Merahi metua no Tehamana (Tehamana Has Many Parents or The Ancestors of Tehamana), 1893, Art Institute of Chicago, famous painters and their children

Two of Gauguin’s illegitimate children were born to different mothers. Germaine Huet was the daughter of Gauguin’s young mistress Juliette Huet who was a seamstress in Paris, while Emile Marae a Tai was the son of Tehura, Paul’s Tahitian wife (portrayed above), who allegedly was only 13 when Gauguin took her as his wife.

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