Merry Joseph Blondel studied in Jean-Baptiste Regnault’s atelier in 1802 before winning the Prix de Rome in 1803 with Aeneas and Anchises (Paris, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts). He did not go to Rome until 1809 and stayed in Italy for three years. There he struck up a friendship with Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres that would last for the rest of the artists’ lives. After gaining a gold medal in the Salon of 1817 for the Death of Louis XII (Toulouse, Musées des Augustins), Blondel embarked on a wide-ranging and successful career as official painter during which he received prestigious commissions for palaces, museums and churches. His monumental allegorical compositions in the tradition of David include the decoration of the Salon and of the Galerie de Diane at Fontainebleau (1822–28) and he received major commissions for several ceilings in the Louvre, of which the earliest and most remarkable is in the vestibule to the Galerie d’Apollon (The Sun or the Fall of Icarus, 1819; in situ). Blondel received considerable recognition in his lifetime: gold medal in 1817, the Légion d’Honneur, a professorship at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and a seat at the Institut de France.
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