Emile Munier (French painter) 1840 - 1895
Munier began his studies under the direction of William Adolphe Bouguereau and he exhibited at the Salon from 1869 until 1895, receiving an honorable mention for his painting La Source in 1882. He was also a member of the Société des Artistes Français and maintained a studio at Boulevard Beauséjour. Le Sauvetage displays the direct influence of Bouguereau and achieves a final result to rival his teacher. Arguably, it is in Le Sauvetage that Munier nears his mentor Bouguereau the most, as both the composition and the glazes are a superb achievement. Munier's use of flesh tones applied in thin glazes adds luminescence and life to the cupids' naked bodies. Yet the greatest achievement of all in Le Sauvetage is perhaps the youngest cupid's blond locks of hair: such shine, freshness and definition with great sense of cohesiveness is otherwise only found in Bouguereau. The playful subject, suggestive of a mythological text, serves as a vehicle to display his ability to depict figure and fauna with equal ability. The naturalistic poses of the cupids, as they bend to rescue their sinking arrows, and the broken iris which dangles in the water, give a sense of immediacy to the picture. This is further enhanced by Munier's capturing of light on the surface of the pond and the movement of the water, even detailing the reflection of his own signature. Such large scale paintings were often intended for exhibition at the Salon as both the size of the painting as well as the ambitious nature of the project would draw the attention of the public. Munier most likely planned to hang Le Sauvetage higher than the viewer's direct line of vision at the Salon allowing the cupids to look down at the public - as if placed up in the clouds.