The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.
For more than a century and a quarter after his death, the French flower-painter Antoine Berjon (1754-1843) remained virtually unknown beyond his native country. Even within France his reputation did not extend much beyond Lyon, his birthplace, despite the fact that for more than 15 years of his adult life he had lived in Paris and continued throughout his life to visit Paris frequently to exhibit at the annual Salon.
Berjon, the son of a local butcher, was born in the Saint-Pierre de Vaise parish of Lyon just past the midpoint of the 18th century. Beyond that biographical details become sketchy and unreliable. One account has young Antoine destined for the clergy and suggests that he may even have learned flower painting as part of his training during the novitiate period. Another account states that he studied medicine for a time. Whichever the case, it is certain that he studied drawing in Lyon and made the very practical decision to enter the textile industry as a designer; at that time the silk industry dominated the economic life of the city.
Southgate MT. Still Life With Flowers, Shells, a Shark's Head, and Petrifications. JAMA. 2007;297(4):340. doi:10.1001/jama.297.4.340