The biography of Félix Ziem (1821 - 1911)
Ziem was born February 26th, 1821, in Beaune in the Côte d'Or department of the Burgundy region of France. His mother was a native of Burgundy who married a Croatian immigrant.
Ziem planned to be an architect and studied at the School of Architecture in Dijon, and for a time worked as an architect. Painting developed from a hobby to a career following an 1841 visit to Italy where he fell in love with the city of Venice, a place that would become the source for many of his works. Apart from Venetian scenes, he also painted many still-lifes, portraits and landscapes from a variety of places including Constantinople, Martigues, Cagnes-sur-Mer and his native Burgundy.
In 1839 he left for Marseille, where he was Clerk of Works on the construction of the Marseille canal. In November 1839 he was noticed by Ferdinand Philippe, Duc d'Orléans, who accepted two watercolors that Ziem presented to him and commissioned a further six. This first success decided Ziem’s vocation.
Ziem’s works were first exhibited in 1849 at the Paris Salon and remained a regular exhibitor there for many years. In 1857 the government of France recognized his contribution to the art world by making him a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Part of the Barbizon school, he traveled extensively throughout Europe and in 1860 moved to Montmartre, the artistic quarter of the city of Paris. Financially successful, he was known to assist struggling young artists.
Félix Ziem died November 10th, 1911 in Paris. He was interred in the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.