Francois Brunery was born in Turin, Northern Italy, in 1849. He studied ion Paris under Jean Leon Gerome (1824 – 1904) and Leon Joseph Bonnat (1834 – 1923), the former the renowned orientalist and the latter a leading academic painter of the era.
Brunery then moved to Rome, the destination for generations of painters following their formal training in Paris, where he would have embarked on history painting and a study of the masters. Legend has it, that it was following one encounter too many with one of his models, that Brunery and his wife returned to Paris.
His earliest exhibited works at the Paris Salon included a portrait in 1880 and Venetian canal views the following years. It was in the 1890’s that he rapidly forged a reputation as the leading artist in the genres of cardinal painting and cavaliers.
The last decades of the nineteenth century saw economic prosperity on a previously unknown scale in Europe and the United States. The burgeoning middle class, the growth of mammon and with it perhaps a lessening in regard for the church, saw this genre of cardinal painting surge in popularity.
The finished technique, the vivid purples and crimsons, the wealth of lavish detail and above all, the pointed humour proved to be of enormous appeal and Francois Brunery was the leading exponent. Brunery exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1880 and received an honourable mention in 1903.