Drawn to the Everyday

Léon Bonvin (1834–1866)

from 8 October 2022 to 8 January 2023

Opening hours: every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm


Forty years after the only retrospective devoted to him on the other side of the Atlantic, the Fondation Custodia organises a major exhibition dedicated to Léon Bonvin (1834–1866), an artist who is now rare and much sought after by the greatest museums and the most discerning amateurs.

On this occasion, the catalogue raisonné of his entire oeuvre is published. The exhibition and the book shed new light on the life and art of Léon Bonvin. They reveal numerous yet unpublished works, scattered in public or private collections, mainly American and French.

Léon Bonvin did not enjoy the same notoriety as his half-brother, François (1817–1887), who was an esteemed realist painter in the 19th century. Few sources and accounts about his life have come down to us. Most were written just after his early death – and often in reaction to it – before the memory of his career and work faded. Forced to spend his days working in the family inn in Vaugirard, Léon Bonvin painted his watercolours far from the gaze of the Parisian artistic and cultural milieu.

  • Léon Bonvin, A Cook in a Red Apron in the Inn at Vaugirard, 1862
    Pen and brown ink, watercolour and gouache over traces of graphite and gum arabic. – 208 × 162 mm
    Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, inv. 37.1505
  • Léon Bonvin, Still Life with Pomegranate, 1864
    Pen and brown ink, watercolour over traces of graphite and gum arabic. – 245 × 187 mm
    Baltimore, The Walters Art Museum, inv. 37.1664
  • Léon Bonvin (1834-1866), Bouquet of Violets, 1863
    Pen and brown ink, watercolour over traces of graphite. – 191 × 154 mm
    Zurich, Collection Walter Feilchenfeldt

He drew his inspiration from his immediate environment: bouquets of wild flowers simply arranged in a glass, kitchen still lifes, views of the still rural and working class plain of Vaugirard. The sincerity with which he depicted the reality of his daily life led to an art of singular poetry. These intimate and truthful works will undoubtedly be a great discovery for the public of the Fondation Custodia.

Although the catalogue strives to be exhaustive, a choice of nearly seventy works by Léon Bonvin has been made for the exhibition. Almost half of this selection comes from the important collection of The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, assembled during the artist’s lifetime by the American collector William Walters (1820–1894). A number of other works also made the journey from the United States, where Léon Bonvin remains highly regarded. Closer to the Fondation Custodia, who owns six sheets of Bonvin, the Musée d’Orsay has a group of thirteen drawings by his hand. Private collectors have also shown their generosity by granting a variety of loans on this occasion.


Léon Bonvin (1834–1866). Drawn to the Everyday

Paris, Fondation Custodia, 2022
304 pages, ca. 170 colour illustrations, 28 × 21 cm, hardcover
ISBN 978 2 958 323 40 0
€ 35,00

To order this book, please fill out the form below. You will receive an invoice by e-mail, including package and postage fees. Payments can be made by bank transfer.

The information supplied by you through this form is collected by the Fondation Custodia in order to process your order. In accordance with the law Informatique et Libertés of 6 January 1978, modified, and with the Règlement Général sur la Protection des Données, you have the legal right to access your data, to rectify them, to restrict them, to transfer them or to suppress them. In order to exercise these rights, you can contact the Fondation Custodia, 121 rue de Lille, 75007 Paris, +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19, coll.lugt@fondationcustodia.fr. To find out more about our Privacy Policy.


Practical Information


Fondation Custodia / Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille - 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19

Access by public transport

Metro: Assemblée Nationale (line 12) or Invalides (lines 8 and 13)
RER C: Invalides or Musée d’Orsay
Bus: lines 63, 73, 83, 84, 94, Assemblée Nationale
Vélib’: station opposite (n° 7009)

Opening hours

Every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm

The Fondation Custodia is closed on 25 December and 1 January

Admission charges

10 € (full)
7 € (reduced)
The reduced rate is available to seniors (over 60), unemployed people, Amis du Louvre, groups of at least 10 people

Free admission: students, press card, ICOM card, disabled person’s card, Vereniging Rembrandt members

No online reservations

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