10 Most Popular French Artists of All Time

10 Most Popular French Artists of All Time
Think art and the aperçu that will have formed instantly in your mind will be that of a French artist. France and Art are like eternal lovers and they share a sacrosanct bond. ArtHearty features some of the most popular French artists of all time who pledged their undying love for their art.
ArtHearty Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
"I don't believe in art. I believe in artists."
― Marcel Duchamp
An artist's love for his art may be likened to a torrid love affair, it just sweeps the artist off his feet and incites him to defy the society and himself. It is both destruction and salvation; there is no feeling of two-ness, for their roots are intertwined forever.

For an artist, every day of his life is a fête of beauty and empowerment. An artist's vision can discern sublimity even in the most modest places. Every French artist - be it painter, musician, sculptor or engraver - his oeuvre reflects his passion and unshakable devotion for his art.

Given below are some of France's most popular artists who consecrated their lives to their art. We hope these maestros and mavens inspirit you and inspire you with energy and confidence.
Oscar-Claude Monet
He is the man who sired Impressionist painting. It was through his painting, Soleil Levant (Sunrise) that painterly technique gained the name of impressionism. Monet was consumed by the wonders of light and colors, and it is for this very reason that he chose to abandon its classical treatment and decided to bathe every element of nature with bold colors and with deep understanding of light. He could see light even in the most darkest and gloomiest of places and painted them with colors that his impressionism vision afforded him. Monet's most famous paintings include Water-Lily Pond (1897), The Magpie (1869), The Walk, Woman with a Parasol (1875), Bouquet of Sunflowers (1881), and Water-Lilies (1916).
François Clouet
François Clouet was a typical Renaissance French painter who was famous for his elegant portraiture style. He was the son of Jean Clouet, an acclaimed court painter to King Francis I. His painterly style was characteristical of French Renaissance - remarkably detailed, captured the transient expressions of the sitter, and had deep humanistic influences which the Renaissance was posited on. His most famous painting is A Lady in Her Bath (1571) which represents ideal beauty in the form of a semi-nude royal mistress seated in her bath with the interiors inspired from Flemish genre scenes.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Decadent and provoking best describe Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's work. His paintings were uninhibited reflections of night life and theatrical life of Paris during the late 1800s. Lautrec was also a printmaker who was often commissioned to produce posters for famous performers. He was afflicted with a genetic disorder as a result of which he could only grow 1.5 meters tall. To escape from derision and mockery because of his appearance and short stature, he sought solace in alcohol, which greatly exacerbated his heath and led to his death at the age of 37.
Henri Matisse
Henri Matisse is deemed as one of the most crucial artists of the twentieth century who broke the mold through his revolutionary painterly style of fauvism, which was essentially an art form that was centered around the expressive attributes of colors and energetic brush strokes. Matisse was an acclaimed painter whose repertoire also included sculpture, graphic arts, drawing, and book illustration. His most famous work include Woman with a Hat (1905), Dance (1910), Blue Nude (1907), Portrait of Madame Matisse (1905), and many more, which are attestations to his creative genius.
Auguste Rodin
Rightly reckoned as the father of modern sculpture, Auguste Rodin was famous for his remarkable sculpting finesse that dared to depict form with realism. Despite his sculpting endowment, he didn't gain recognition for his work until the age of 40. A trip to Italy plied him with inspiration and he went to sculpt his masterpiece, The Age of Bronze. Rodin's other phenomenal work includes The Kiss (1889), The Thinker (1880), The Burghers of Calais (1889), and The Gates of Hell (incomplete).
Fernand Léger
Fernand Léger was a known French painter whose paintings evinced his fixation with cubism and technology. However, his treatment to Cubism was different from that of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, for he chose to fracture his objects into mechanistic, robot-like forms and tubular shapes, which also came to be known as 'tubism'. His painterly style was characterized by uses of primary colors, illusions of three-dimensionality, and abstraction. His most notable works are Contrast of Forms (1913), The City (1919), Three Women (1921), and Umbrella and Bowler (1926).
Aristide Maillol
Aristide Maillol began his artistic journey as a painter and tapestry designer and switched to sculpting due to his failing eyesight. Aristide's sculpting style was drastically different from Rodin's as his approach toward sculpture was bent more toward Classical tradition. Most of his body of work is centered around female body, which he tried to instill with allegorical significance. His famous work include Mediterranean (1902), Air (1938), Nymphs of the Meadow (1930-37), Torso (1906), and many more.
Charles Trenet
Charles Trenet made a rare singer who wrote and sang his own songs. He was known for his light baritone voice, which somewhere altered between melancholia and exuberance. He was one of the most popular chanteur (he sang lyrically-driven French songs called Chansons). He had a charismatic personality and would often don a fedora that gained him the moniker of la Fou chantant (the Singing Fool). His most notable songs are La Mer, Douce France (sweet France), Que reste-t-il de nos amours?(What Remains of Our Love), and Boum (Boom).
Édith Piaf
'The Little Sparrow' (a name inspired from her short stature and nervousness) Édith Piaf became a culture icon during World War II. She catapulted to international renown during the 1940s as she toured Europe, United States, and South America. Piaf's specialized in chansons and ballads, and sang with passion and vigor. Her most famous songs are La Vie en Rose (her signature song recorded in 1946), Non, je ne regrette rien (1960), Milord (1959), La Foule (1957), and Padam... Padam (1951).
Serge Gainsbourg
It is hard to pigeonhole this genius into any specific category, for he was poet, song-writer, painter, actor, writer, singer, pianist, and director. His music is equally difficult to classify into any one genre as his music was motley of styles - from jazz, chanson, mambo, yé-yé, electronic, progressive rock, reggae, and many more. Gainsbourg was provocative and controversial - right from his unchaste songs to drunk television appearances, he was quite a L'enfant terrible. Some of his best songs are Le poinçonneur des Lilas (Ticket puncher at Lilas), La Chanson de Prévert ( Prévert's song), La Javanaise, Bonnie and Clyde, and Je t'aime ... moi non plus (I love you... me neither).
Pledge your love for your art and fling yourselves in its infinite beauty and you will know why despite hardships and poverty, some artists devoted their entire lives for their art.