Son of the wealthy expatriate art collector William Stewart, Julius LeBlanc Stewart spent his entire career abroad, socializing and working among the American expatriate society and European high society. In 1873 he enrolled in the atelier of Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904). He also studied with the popular Spanish artists Eduardo Zamaçois (1842- 1871) and Raimundo de Madrazo (1841-1920). Following the practice of his teachers, Stewart devoted himself to figure painting. He began exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1878 and the National Academy of Design in New York in 1883. His first mature paintings were of single figures, but he soon turned to more elaborate, multifigured, narrative scenes. His first major success, Five O’clock Tea, painted by 1883 (unlocated) and shown in the Paris Salon that year, and The Hunt Ball, 1885 (Essex Club, Newark), won critical acclaim and established his reputation as a delineator of the formal life of the upper class. In this genre he was also influenced by the work of his close friend, the artist Jean Béraud (1849-1936), but Stewart’s images of the wealthy were considered to evince a greater realism and vivacity. He often included in his scenes portraits of his friends, such as James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald, Sarah Bernhardt, and the Astors. Stewart continued to paint society images and individual portraits but by the late 1890s also turned to other themes, including scenes of Venice; the nude, usually in the open air; and religious subjects. His interest in the outdoors developed during time spent in the summer home of his friend Bennett in Bougival. Throughout the 1890s Stewart’s international reputation grew as he exhibited in numerous international expositions, serving as the cochairman for the Americans in Paris for the 1894 Salon. By 1898, however, his career seemed to have been eclipsed, and he received little critical or public attention thereafter.
Clarence Cook, Art and Artists of Our Time (New York: Selmar Hess, 1888), 3: 290-92 § Georges Bal, "Au Jour le jour dans les ateliers," New York Herald (Paris ed.), January 16, 1904, p. 5, reprinted as "M. Jules Stewart in His Studio," New York Herald, December 23, 1906 § Dayton Art Institute and others, American Expatriate Painters of the Late Nineteenth Century, exh. cat., 1976, text by Michael Quick, pp. 22, 135-36, 157, with bibliography § Sue Carson Joyner, "Julius L. Stewart: Life and Works," Master’s thesis, Hunter College, City University of New York, 1982, with bibliography and list of exhibitions § D. Dodge Thompson, "Julius L. Stewart: A "‘Parisian from Philadelphia,’" Antiques 130 (November 1986): 1046-58.