Paris 2°, February 24th 1823 – May 17th 1903, Chanteloup-les-vignes
Paul Constant Soyer was, without any doubt, one of the most representative painter artist of the Ecouen Colony. His mother, Pauline Landon de Saint-Yves (1786-1871), well known engraver at that time, moved in Ecouen with her son as early as 1856.
Widower of Marie Françoise Roque (dead in Paris on Mai 13th 1875), Paul Constant Soyer marries Josephine Charlotte Steiger, professor of music in the Ecouen Légion d’Honneur school, on August 9th 1877. His best boys are Theophile Emmanuel Duverger and Charles Edouard Frere.
Like many other before him, he is a student of Léon Cogniet (1794-1880). He exhibits the portrait of his mother at the 1847 Salon des Artistes Français (French Artists Salon). He’ll exhibit there until 1901.
He is awarded a medal in 1870, a second class one in 1882 and a bronze one in the 1889 Paris Universal Exhibition. He develops an important activity in wood carving and etching.
Sometimes, the Paul Constant Soyer paintings are of very large dimensions. The one exhibited at the 1870 Salon de Paris, showing a blacksmith workshop, was 4 meters high and 6 meters wide. One of his the preferred subjects was herd working conditions, to the unbearable limits.
The lace makers of Asnière-sur-Oise, nice painting of vivid colors, became such a great success after the Salon de Paris exhibition, that he has been bought in 1865 by the government. Later, it’ll enjoy the visitors of the 1867 Universal Exhibition, then the ones of the 1879 Beaux-Arts of Munich. It has been shown from 1866 to 1892 at the “Paris Musée du Luxembourg” (Paris Luxembourg museum) then given to “la Grande Chancellerie de la Légion d’Honneur” (Paris head quarter of the Legion d’Honneur Committee). From1958 to 1967, it was stored for restoration in the Paris Musée du Louvre. It can now be seen at the Paris Musée d’Orsay.
His fame will bring to him a lot of students from the US, like Eliza Haldeman, well known for common life paintings. His best known student has been the great American painter Mary Stevenson Cassatt. She came in Ecouen to perfect her painting technique before going to other schools and meet success.
The Paul Constant Soyer teaching is of an excellent quality and all of his students will exhibit in Paris. This shows the talent of Paul Constant Soyer. Unfortunately, he is forgotten today, like most of the painters of the Ecouen Colony.
Following an April 26th 1857 donation from his parents, Paul Constant Soyer lived in Ecouen “rue de la Beauvette” (Beauvette street). On November 27th 1865, he bought a little woodland located in the same street. An illustrator named Charles Kossbühl (1865-1905) was living there. He is buried in the Ecouen cemetery.
On September 20th 1866, Paul Constant Soyer bought and moved in a house located “7 rue de la Grande-Fontaine” (Large fountain street). This house is very large, including a garden with a kiosk, a green house leading to “rue de l’Abreuvoir” (horse pond street). On September 30th 1876, Paul Constant Soyer sales this house, to a Bruxelles (Belgium) businessman, for the amount of 18000 F.
He then moves to the village of Chanteloup-par-Andrésy (called today Chanteloup-les-Vignes), in a street named Pauline-Soyer. This is a funny coincidence.
The funeral ceremony of Paul Constant Soyer took place in the famous Saint-Acceul church of Ecouen.
On 1904, in memory of Paul Constant Soyer, some of his friends and students asked Charles Eugene Breton (1878-1968) to make the statue we can see today in front of the Ecouen “Manoir des tourelles” (turrets manor).
The City Council has been asked to give the Paul Constant Soyer name to one of the Ecouen’s street but this has not been done yet.
For further information, please read the book “L’Ecole d’Ecouen, une colonie de peintres au XIXe siècle” (bilingual French-English).