Benjamin Eugène Fichel (1826-1895)

Benjamin Eugène Fichel was born in Paris on August 30th 1826.  A talented young artist, he entered the École des Beaux-Arts at the young age of fifteen, where he eventually became a student of Martin Drolling and Paul Delaroche. Given his very young age and the rigorous training necessary as a student of the École des Beaux-Arts, Fichel did not exhibit his first painting (Sainte Famille) until the 1849 at the Parisian Salon. Fichel became a prolific Salon artist, beginning with many portraits, but later exhibiting, consistently and unwaveringly, historical and genre scenes inspired by the eighteenth century.

Many of Fichel’s historically-oriented themes were those depicting episodes from the reign of Napoleon I.  Louis Auvray, a nineteenth century art critic, took notice of Fichel’s 1865 Salon entry, L’Empereur Napoleon Ier Combinant des manœuvres (Palais de Compiègne) (The Emperor Napoleon I Combining Maneuvers (Compiègne Palace), which was purchased by Princess Mathilde, Napoleon I’s niece.

During his career at the Parisian Salon, Fichel was awarded several awards and continued to exhibit there until his death in 1895.  Fichel achieved one of his highest honors in 1870 when he was named a Knight of the Legion of Honor.  At the end of his career he had achieved, “an envied place among the genre painters of the French school of the nineteenth century.”

Fichels’ work can be found in many of France’s museums, including the Musée Magnin and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon, and the Musées des Beaux-Arts in the cities of Lille, Rennes, Rouen, and Bordeaux.