Constantin Émile Meunier
The sculptor, painter and graphic artist Constantin Émile Meunier was born on 12th April 1831 in Etterbeck, Brussels, After completing his studies at the Brussels Academy, Meunier studied under his brother Jean-Baptiste Meunier (1821 – 1900), and subsequently worked for the sculptor Charles Auguste Fraikin (1817 – 93) for three years. He then painted for a short period, working in the studio of artist François-Joseph Navez’s (1787 – 1869). Constantin Émile Meunier mainly executed paintings with religious content.
In 1868 he founded the "Société Libre des Beaux-Arts" with the Belgian avant-garde artists Charles De Groux (1825 – 70) and Félicien Rops (1833 – 98). Around 1880, the artist lightened his palette and embraced impressionism. After visting a number of industrial areas and talking to the workers there, he began depicting people in his work. In 1880 Constantin Émile Meunier exhibited at the Gent Salon. Between 1882-83, he undertook a study trip to Spain, which was sponsored by the Belgian government. Around this time, Meunier is thought to have copied Peter de Kempener’s "The Deposition" for the Brussels museum.
In 1886, Constantin Émile Meunier began sculpting again, and producing fewer paintings. Between 1890 and 1896, the French government purchased five of his sculptures and one painting. In 1895, Meunier took part in the "Seconde Salon de la Libre Esthétique" in Brussels. In the following year, the Galerie Bing in Paris held a retrospective of his work, In 1897, he took part in the International Art Exhibition in Dresden and in the Vienna Secession.
After Constantin Émile Meunier won a prize at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1900, he was made a member of the Paris Academy. In 1903 Meunier began executing the Zola monument in Paris, together with the French sculptor Alexandre Charpentier (1856 – 1909). This sculpture and the "Monument de Travail" in Lacken in Brussels were not completed until after Meunier’s death.
The artist spent the last five years of his life living and working in a house in the Rue d’Abbaye, located in the Ixelles, Brussels.
He died there on 4th April 1905. In 1936 Meunier’s house, which contained some 700 of his works were purchased by the Belgian state and opened to the public in 1939. The Meunier museum has been part of the Royal Museum of Fine Arts since 1978.