Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Fish Still Life 4 - Antoine Vollon

Antonie Vollon, (1833-1900) was a gifted and prolific French painter that excelled in landscape, marines and still life painting. Born in Lyon, the young Vollon apprenticed to an engraver and attended the Art school there. Quickly mastering the skill of oil painting, he made the still life his focus as a motif, no doubt influenced by the great 18th century French still life painters, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699-1777) , Anne Vallayer-Coster (1744-1818), and Jean-Baptiste Oudry ( 1686 – 1755). In 1859 the young painter goes to Paris and finds the artistic mileau which feeds his art spirit, making friends with Phillip Rousseau,( 1816-1887), Eugène Louis Gabriel Isabey (1803 – 1886), Jean-François Millet (1814 – 1875), Augustin Théodule Ribot (1823-1891) and many of the so-called Barbizon painters. Among his friends is Alexandre Dumas, with whom he accompanies to the Normande coast. It is there that he discovers Mers le Bains, a small fishing village on the coast where he makes his studio , marries and lives for the next 20 years. What interested the artist in this rural village was precisely the proximity with the sea, which of course served its interest for the marine landscapes, but especially provided it for the fish still lives. Vollon also painted landscapes of the port of Tréport near Mers-les-Bains, was interested in the fishing vessels and made some portraits of fishermen. Vollon's painting technique is typified by a dark ground, and alluring paint quality, which he created with a swift alla prima technique coupled with translucent varnish mediums. Perhaps influenced by Rembrandt and Velasquez, Vollon and his fellow Barbizon style still life painters, explored this moody and seductive style of painting which would be seen later to exert great influence on the next generation of painters such as William Merrit Chase (1849-1916), Frank Duveneck (1848-1919),and Charles Webster Hawthorne (1872-1930).

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