“Fetes” By Adolphe Monticelli


A 19 century oil painting on cradled panel by the noted French artist Adolphe Monticelli (1824-1886); circa 1870; titled ‘Fetes’ and signed lower left.

Monticelli was born in Marseille in humble circumstances. He attended the Ecole Municipale de Dessin in Marseille from 1842 to 1846, and continued his artistic training in Paris, where he studied under Paul Delaroche at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. In Paris he made copies after the Old Masters in the Louvre, and admired the oil sketches of Eugene Delacroix. In 1855 he met Narcisse Diaz, a member of the Barbizon school, and the two often painted together in the Fontainebleau Forest. Monticelli frequently adopted Diaz’s practice of introducing nudes or elegantly costumed figures into his landscapes.[1]

He developed a highly individual Romantic style of painting such as this one, in which richly colored, dappled, textured and glazed surfaces produce a scintillating effect. He painted courtly subjects inspired by Antoine Watteau; he also painted still lives, portraits, and Orientalist subjects that owe much to the example of Delacroix.

In its painterly freedom Monticelli’s work prefigures that of Vincent Van Gogh, who greatly admired his work after seeing it in Paris when he arrived there in 1886. Van Gogh immediately adopted a brighter palette and a bolder attack, and later remarked, “I sometimes think I am really continuing that man.”[3] In 1890, Van Gogh and his brother Theo were instrumental in publishing the first book about Monticelli.

The young Paul Cezanne had befriended Monticelli in the 1860s, and the influence of the older painter’s work can be seen in Cezanne’s work of that decade. Between 1878 and 1884 the two artists often painted landscapes together, once spending a month roaming the Aix countryside. Although Monticelli experimented briefly around 1870 with a treatment of light reflecting the discoveries of the Impressionists, he found the objectivity of this approach uncongenial.

After 1870, Monticelli returned to Marseille, where he would live in poverty despite a prolific output, selling his paintings for small sums. An unworldly man, he dedicated himself single mindedly to his art.

An inscription on the  back of the frame alludes to the paintings Provenance.  Written in French, the inscription says  that the painting was once in the collection of a Mr Lanz, the Swiss Consul in Amsterdam

Dimensions : 30.5″ ( 78 cm ) W x 25” ( 64 cm ) H

Ref. AM WP4075

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