Perhaps Meissonier’s flaw, in the eyes of his critics, was that he was an old fashioned painter at the beginning of a new age of painting. His career overlapped with Monet and the birth of impressionism and Courbet and the birth of Realism. In contrast to these modern movements, Meissonier looks romantic and dated. His technical genius remains undeniable and both his subject matter and, perhaps fittingly, his own personal story remind us not to forget the past. In his own words he was ‘a painter of history’.
The reason that Bunker never rose to international fame and recognition is simple: He died aged 29, before he could produce a body of work large enough get the attention of the mainstream. His particular genius was the ability to bridge the academic and impressionist school of painting.
Bunker’s artistic education probably played a key part in developing this ability; he studied both in the US and in Paris under the academic Jean-Leon Gerome at the Ecole de Beaux Arts before gaining his more impressionist influences from friendships with Sargent and the Boston painters.