Hugues Merle (1823–1881) was a French painter who mostly depicted sentimental or moral subjects. He has often been compared with William-Adolphe Bouguereau.
Hugues Merle was born in 1823 in Saint Martin. He was a sensitive genre painter of great talent whose paintings of the simple, noble lives of the working class won him international recognition. He studied painting with Léon Cogniet. Merle started exhibiting at the Salon (City of Paris) in 1847. After studying with Leon Cogniet at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he embarked on a series of paintings depicting historical themes including The Assassination of Henry the III, which was acquired by the French government in 1863 for exhibition at the Musee de Pau. He received second class prices in 1861 and 1863. In 1866 he was made Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Hugues Merle became a friend of Paul Durand-Ruel’s in the early 1860s. Durand-Ruel had started buying paintings by Merle in 1862 and introduced Merle to William-Adolphe Bouguereau. Merle would then often be compared to Bouguereau and even “became a considerable rival of Bouguereau in subject and treatment”. In the mid-1860s, Merle painted several portraits of Paul Durand-Ruel, his wife, and their son, John. Hugues Merle died in 1881 in Paris. His son, Georges Merle, was also a painter.
Portrait of a Young Beauty
Mother and Child
A Turkish Beauty