Aman-Jean, Edmond Francois

Aman-Jean, Edmond Francois.  (1860 – 1936)

Aman-Jean was an artist with substantial connections to the Symbolist movement. He knew Joséphin Péladan and exhibited in the first two Salons de la Rose + Croix in 1892 and 93, designing the poster for the second Salon. He had close friendships with some of the Symbolist poets and knew Mallarmé and painted a portrait of Verlaine (now in the Musee de Metz).

His training was at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (from 1880) and at the atelier of Henri Lehmann. As a young artist he helped Puvis de Chavannes square up his large decorative painting, ‘Le Bois Sacre’ (The Sacred Grove), which was exhibited at the Salon of 1884. At Lehmann’s atelier he met Seurat and the two men became friends.

Aman-Jean made many pictures of women, depicting femininty in a Symbolist fashion, as representing mystery and inner worldliness. His subjects are often quiet, singular figures. The lithograph shown on this website, ‘Sous les Fleurs’, is such a picture; in the design the individual features of the face are clouded, though the decorative floral patterns around it are displayed with a contrasting clarity.

The critic Roger Marx wrote in 1895 that Aman-Jean painted these subjects “with the all-embracing tenderness of a Baudelaire or a Maeterlinck….the unfathomable mystery of their gaze and their distant smiles betray troubled thoughts taking wing”.
Andre Beaunier wrote in Art et Decoration in 1902 – “He (Aman-Jean) wants his art to express a general idea of the Universe, the beauty of which is revealed by the happy combination of colours and the perfection of gestures. He does not conceive of human beings as consciously isolated from everything else, but rather he admires in them the most vital and synthetic expression of the Universe, a Universe aware of itself and of its own beauty”.

Aman-Jean visted Italy several times and the influence changed his use of colour from more subdued tones to brighter colours. This was suited to his increasing use of the pastel medium.

He died in Paris in 1936