Alexandre François Bonnardel (1867-1942) was born in Pajay in southeastern France. Bonnardel was not born into an artistic family, but in 1891 enrolled at the National School of Fine Art in Lyon. During his studies his talents were quickly recognised, and he became a student of Jean-Baptiste Poncet and Antoine Christian Zacharie. Under Poncet and Zacharie’s guidance and tutorage Bonnardel exhibited in the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Lyon for the first time in 1895.
From 1900 to 1918 Bonnardel was a professor of the life model class at the National School of Fine Art in Lyon, resigning from this prestigious a position due to an affair with a student. He continued to exhibit at the Salon throughout his career. In 1899 Bonnardel received the 1st prize medal at the Salon des Beaux-Arts in Lyon. He also exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français where he was awarded an honourable mention in 1909.
Bonnardel’s impressionist en plein air scenes and portraits of elegant female sitters were admired during his lifetime, and still hold their reputation today. He primarily painted portraits and genre scenes but also enjoyed drawing and engraving traditional figures of Lyon puppetry on the theme of Guignol, Gnafron and Madelon, as well as designing stage sets for the Guignol theatre. Bonnardel’s paintings form part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon.