Julius LeBlanc Stewart, an American artist who spent his career in Paris, was born on September 6, 1855 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His father, William Hood Stewart, was a sugar millionaire. In 1865, he moved his family to Paris, where he became a distinguished art collector. He specialized in the works of the contemporary Spanish-Roman school, including Zamacois, Fortuny, and de Madrazo. As a teenager, Julius LeBlanc Stewart studied under Eduardo Zamacois. He later went on to study at the École des Beaux Arts under Jean-LéonGérôme, and later was a pupil of Raymondo de Madrazo.
Stewart’s family wealth enabled him to paint what he pleased, particularly large-scaled group portraits of his family and friends, including actresses, celebrities and aristocrats. Stewart often painted a self-portrait somewhere in the crowd. Julius LeBlanc Stewart exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon from 1878 into the early 20th century. His paintings The Hunt Ball (1885) and The Hunt Supper (1889) were shown at the Paris Exposition and firmly established his reputation. The Baptism (1892) depicted a gathering of the Vanderbilt family, and was shown at the 1893 Chicago World Columbian Exposition, and received acclaim at the 1895 Berlin International Exposition.
Stewart painted portraits of high society women, depicting their evolving roles in a changing society: from the depiction of beauty for beauty’s sake to the portrayal of the educated sophisticate. He also painted nudes out-of-doors, a subject which was more acceptable in France than America at the time. However, after a religious crisis and conversion in 1905, Stewart toned down his subject matter.
Julius LeBlanc Stewart died on January 5, 1919. He remained a bachelor throughout his life.