"Art is a harmony parallel with nature," said Paul Cezanne, one of France's Post-Impressionist painters. Certainly, there is some truth in that statement, particularly when it comes to French painters and their work, but that doesn't mean that all French art falls under a single category or movement. Still, Cezanne had it right when he discussed harmony and art, as it is one of the defining characteristics of France's greatest artworks
Of course, to trace the history of art in France is a difficult task. It is easiest to think of French art as beginning with the establishment of the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture in 1648 because that is when the country started to define itself and its artwork as separate from other movements across Europe.
With the establishment of the Academie, French artists and their paintings took on an influential role in defining styles and themes for art around the world over the next few centuries, popularizing many techniques and movements.
How well do you know French painters and the most important works they produced? From Classicism to Post-Impressionism, can you match the famous French painting to the artist? Here's your chance to find out.
If you're ready to take on the role of an art historian, get started and see if you're a master when it comes to the work of these French artists.
Having spent most of his life in Rome, Nicolas Poussin was heavily influenced by classical styles and themes. "Death of Germanicus" is one such example where Poussin relied on tales describing how Germanicus, a Roman general, was poison by his stepfather.
One of the central figures in the Neoclassical style, Jacques-Louis David favored themes from the antiquity era, like in his work "The Death of Socrates." David was also a master at politics, aligning himself with important rulers in France, who allowed him to oversee the art being produced across the country.
Unlike many French women at the time, Berthe Morisot was trained in painting from an early age, partly because her mother was quite supportive of her art. She was mainly influenced by her time studying under Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, a Barbizon painter.
Although Edgar Degas is considered a central member of the Impressionist movement, he was never in favor of applying the term to his work. Degas preferred to be categorized under Realism, another important 19th-century movement.
Partly because of his family inheritance, Horace Vernet found success as an artist from an early age, turning professional when he was only in his teens. As he aged, he became a master at depicting battle scenes from the many wars that had engulfed France over the past century.
Though Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec was a skilled painter, he was much more well known for his posters that helped establish advertising lithographs as high art. When he was painting, however, he chose to depict the humanistic side of dance hall workers and its patrons.
Born into an important family under the French Republic, it seemed as though Eugene Delacroix's path in life would come easy to him. However, his family fell from favor after the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte, forcing Delacroix to rely on his skill as a painter to make a name for himself.
After spending time in Paris, Paul Gauguin sought to escape the civilized world in the hope of finding a primitive influence for his art. Though he failed to find a completely primitive society, his travels to Tahitian influenced not only his status as an artist but also the future of art in France.
At an early age, Theodore Gericault sought out teachers who could help him develop his skills and define himself as an artist. However, after studying with Pierre Guerin, who had a strict curriculum, Gericault turned to teaching himself, copying the works of some of the previous masters of painting.
As with many artists in the second half of the 19th century, Pierre-Auguste Renoir used Impressionist techniques to create paintings full of color and warmth. The artist moved away from this style as he aged, however, turning instead to more formal portraits of women.
Edouard Manet wasn't in favor of declaring his art under any particular style, which is why he stayed away from art exhibitions. Instead, Manet relied on the Paris Salons to get his work out to the public, where he often received mixed reviews.
Initially earning a law degree before serving in the Franco-Prussian War, Gustave Caillebotte was a late bloomer as an artist. He began to study the craft as soon as he left the war, though, starting his career at the studio of Leon Bonnat.
Few artists are as well associated with the Pointillism movement as Georges-Pierre Seurat. Just like Seurat's painting, the movement is defined by flickers created from tiny strokes and small dots.
Trained to paint by her father, Rosa Bonheur had a rigorous approach in preparing for painting. She always took careful study of the subjects she was depicting and relied on numerous sketches to guide her work.
Born in France at the beginning of the 17th century, Claude Lorrain spent much of his life in Italy, the most prominent place for artists at the time. While in Italy, he studied under many influential artists like Goffredo Wals but found nature to be his most important teacher.
For centuries, much of Louis Le Nain's work was often confused with that of his two brothers. The confusion was because the brothers shared a studio and signed their works without using a first name.
Because Georges de La Tour never dated his works, it's hard for an art historian to determine precisely when he produced each of them. However, differences in style can help, as his more realistic scenes seem to have come before the period of stylization that defined his later works.
Hyacinthe Rigaud's career can partly be defined by his rivalry with another artist, Nicolas de Largilliere. Both men were portraitists painters, but Rigaud relied on aristocrats in his portraits, typically portraying them in positions of elegance.
Jean-Antoine Watteau helped redefine the Baroque style of art that was falling out of favor during his time. Similar to other artists from the Baroque period, his works used a mixture of colors as he tried to capture the life of his subjects through movement.
Pierre Mignard had the honor of dying a celebrated artist, especially after he was named First Painter to the King in his later life. Another important honor came when he was elected as the head of the Academie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, the premier art institution in France.
Although he was a great painter, Pierre Puget was even better known for his work as a sculptor. Two of his famous works, "Milo of Croton" and "Perseus and Andromeda," were added to the Great Lawn by King Louis XIV.
While in London working as a restorer at Windsor Castle, Nicolas de Largillierre spent time working on still life paintings. His time studying the techniques associated with still life art allowed him to incorporate what he learned into his portraits for which he is best known.
After painting "Joseph Recognized by His Brothers," Anne-Louis Girodet received a scholarship, known as the Prix de Rome, that allowed him to travel to Rome to study art. While in Rome, he painted "The Sleeping Endymion," one of his most successful works.
The success Jean-Marc Nattier received in his younger years failed him as his life and career came to a close. By the end of his life and with his skills deteriorating, Nattier was forced to sell off most of his art collection, while also facing criticism from the next generation of artists.
After receiving training from his father, Jean-Baptiste Oudry spent a great deal of time studying with Nicolas de Largillierre. Under Largillierre's direction, Oudry mastered the use of color, which he incorporated into his still life and portrait paintings.
Since Charles Le Brun served as the First Painter to the King under Louis XIV, he received many important commissions during his lifetime. Two of his most recognized jobs were decorating the Palace of Versailles and the Chateau de Vaux-le-Vicomte.
Studying under Pierre Dulin, Nicolas Lancret began his painting career focusing on historical paintings. However, he soon decided to transfer over to Claude Gillot's studio, where he learned the style of genre painting that would come to define his work.
Nicolas Poussin focused on narrative in his artwork by using gestures and expression in his figures. He was a master at capturing humanistic states of being like tenderness and mourning.
Adelaide Labille-Guiard was a versatile artist, transitioning from miniatures early in her career to full-sized paintings as she developed her craft. She found success at the Salon by exhibiting her portraits for which she became known for.
Felix Ziem first studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts before turning to painting when he found a teacher in Adolphe Monticelli. The decision worked out as he found success relatively early and made a small fortune off of selling his artwork.
Paul Signac discovered that traveling was a source of inspiration for him and spent a significant part of his early career sailing around Europe. Much of his early art depicts landscapes and ports from this time he spent traveling.
Marie Bracquemond was excluded from the Impressionist movement in the early part of her career, which is largely attributed to her husband's desire not to categorize her work. Nonetheless, her art eventually found its way into several Impressionist exhibitions as her style developed.
While most French artists of the 19th century were swallowed up in the Impressionist movement or Romanticism, Alexandre Cabanel turned his attention to historical and allegorical themes. Using this style, he joined a small group of artists known for L'art pompier.
Relying on Realism, Jean-Francois Millet became a prominent member and is considered a founder of the Barbizon school, which receives its name from a village in France. Millet, particularly, chose to focus on naturalistic scenes depicting peasant farmers.
Seraphine Louis was discovered by the art dealer Wilhelm Uhde while working as a housecleaner in Senlis. Despite having no formal education, Uhde found her work appealing enough to feature it in his exhibition "Les peintres du Coeur Sacre."
Starting his art career in 1904, Robert Delaunay had finally defined his style by the end of the decade when he created the first of his "Eiffel Tower" series. His style of art became known as Orphism, which was closely related to Cubism.
Maurice Denis was a huge contributor to the Symbolism movement, which helped transition French art from Impressionism to Modern Art at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. The people who were associated with this movement became known as Les Nabis.