Antoine Vollon (1833-1900) was a French realist painter best known for his still lifes and landscapes. The son of an ornamental craftsman, Vollon studied engraving and printmaking at the École des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, and later began working decorating enamelled pans and stoves. He taught himself to paint and moved to Paris in 1859 to pursue the artform as a career. There, he became close friends with several well-known artists and authors of the time, such as Alexandre Dumas and Honoré Daumier.
In Paris, Vollon became a student of Théodule Ribot and was largely influenced by 17th century Dutch still life painters. However, as still lifes were considered the lowest acceptable genre for the Salon, the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Vollon set his sights on figure painting, winning first prize at the 1876 Salon for his work, Femme du Pollet à Dieppe (Seine-Inferieure). However, one scathing bit of criticism from fellow artist Édouard Manet seemed to solidify Vollon’s reputation as truly a still life painter.
Despite this, Vollon gained wide recognition amongst critics and the public, receiving numerous awards, and was elected to the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1897. He died in 1900 while painting at Versailles, just months after receiving the Grand Prix Award at the Paris World’s Fair.