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Ernest Renan

1892
19th century
34.6 cm x 48.5 cm (13 5/8 in. x 19 1/8 in.)

Anders Leonard Zorn (Mora (Sweden), 1860 - 1920, Mora (Sweden)) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, Swedish
Medium and Support: Etching
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, Gift of the children of L.M. Tonkin, 1966
Accession Number: G1966.2.66

Zorn’s stark portrait marked the death of an intellectual who had done much to secularize France. Renan (1823-1892) was born to a Breton woman, raised Catholic, and educated in seminaries with the intention of becoming a priest. The more he learned of his faith, however, the more doubtful of it he became. Renan was best known for his book The Life of Christ, a positivist biography of Jesus as an historical figure, which infuriated the Catholic Church. He was liberal in his politics and supported democratic forms of government. In 1882, he defined a nation as a group of people living together who “have done great things together and want to do more.”

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