MEISSONIER, JEAN LOUIS ERNEST French painter, was born at Lyons on the 21st of February 1815. He studied in Leon Cogniet's studio. He paid short visits to Rome and to Switzerland, and exhibited in the Salon of 1831 a picture then called "Les Bourgeois Flamands" ("Dutch Burgh ers"), but also known as "The Visit to the Burgomaster" (at Hertford House, London, with fifteen other examples of this painter). It was the first attempt in France in the particular genre which was destined to make Meissonier famous : microscopic painting—miniature in oils. Working hard for daily bread at illustrations for the publishers—Curmer, Hetzel and Dubocher he also exhibited at the Salon of 1836 the "Chess Player" and the "Errand Boy." He then exhibited with much success the "Game of Chess" (1841), the "Young Man playing the 'Cello" (1842), "The Painter in his Studio" "The Guard Room," the "Young Man looking at Drawings," the "Game of Piquet" (1845), and the "Game of Bowls"—works which show the finish and certainty of his technique, and assured his success.
Meissonier worked with elaborate care and a scrupulous obser vation of nature. Some of his works, as for instance his "1807," were ten years in course of execution. He exhibited continuously henceforward, and obtained high prices. His "Cuirassiers," now at Chantilly, was bought from the artist for ii0,000, sold at Brussels for f I i,000, and finally resold for 16,00o. He died in Paris on Jan. 2I, 1891.
See Alexandre, Histoire de la peinture militaire en France (Paris, 1891) ; Laurens, Notice sur Meissonier (Paris, 1892) ; Greard, Meis sonier (Paris and London, 1897) ; T. G. Dumas, Maitres modernes (Paris, 1884) ; Ch. Formentin, Meissonier, sa vie—son oeuvre (Paris, 190I) ; J. W. Mollett, Illustrated Biographies of Modern Artists: Meissonier (London, 1882).