Painter of mythological compositions, religious subjects, genre paintings, portraits, nudes, landscapes, urban landscapes, still-life, painting with gouache, watercolorist, painter of cartoons for tapestries, sculptor, engraver, illustrator.
Born in 1868, in Lille, Emile Bernard comes to live in Paris with his family, in 1881.
His early passion for drawing is opposed by his father but supported by his grandmother. Registered in the Studio of Cormon, in 1885, he meets Anquetin and Toulouse-Lautrec with whom he becomes friends.
Expelled for insubordination, he traverses on foot Normandy and Brittany, in 1886. In Concarneau, he meets Schuffenecker who sends him to Pont-Aven to meet Gauguin, whose greeting is very reserved. In Asnières, he paints in company of Van Gogh; Signac, who had noticed him, comes to visit him.
During the summer 1887, Bernard is in Saint-Briac, in the pension of Mrs. Lemasson where he tries his first tests of " cloisonnism". In August 1888, he is then twenty years old, he is in Pont-Aven with his sister Madeleine; he become friends with Gauguin, works with him and from their collaboration is born esthetics specific to Pont-Aven.
He spends the summer 1889 in Brittany, after having exposed at the Café Volpini, with the painters of the Pont-Aven's group. In 1890, he tries to earn a living in Lille, by drawing fabrics, but he gives up quickly. Bernard quarrels with Gauguin in 1891 and exposes that same year at the "Indépendants" and at Barc de Boutteville.
He stays in Pont-Aven in 1892 and takes part in the "Salon de la Rose Croix, then, in 1893, thanks to the financial assistance of the Count of Rochefoucauld, he leaves for Constantinople and Egypt where he will live until 1904.
When returning to France, he visits Cézanne and settles in Tonnerre. He achieves various trips to Italy, stays in Pont-Aven between 1939 and 1940 and dies in Paris in 1941.
Creator of the "synthetic symbolism", inventor of a new vision, Bernard evolved thereafter to a return to the classic art, after having played an essential role of initiator for Gauguin and all the group of Pont-Aven.
Extract from the book "Paul Gauguin et ses amis de Pont-Aven" published by Ar-Men