Albert-Marie Dagnaux is one of those artists whose discovery arouses real delight. Discreet, this son of a Parisian restaurant owner, he studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris where he took lessons from Ernest-Victor Hareux. His paintings are remarkable for the mastery of light in a universe of colors deployed in sensitive touches and resolutely places the painter at the crossroads of realism and impressionism.
Noticed at the age of 20 by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, Albert Dagnaux participated in the so-called "Lourdes" panorama, a monumental work 125 meters long representing the fifth apparition of the Virgin to Bernadette Soubirous. He will be responsible for the execution of the landscape.
Albert Dagnaux travels to Brittany, Normandy, Creuse. He painted many landscapes which he exhibited at the Salon of the Society of French Artists from 1883, before joining the National Society of Fine Arts founded by Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier in 1890.
Several monographic exhibitions were devoted to him, with great success between 1897 and 1909. From 1903, Albert Dagnaux stayed regularly in Mantes la Jolie and ended up settling there while keeping his Parisian studio on rue Saint-Didier. There he produced multiple landscapes and slices of daily life, which became his favorite subject.
Let's stop for a moment on "The collegiate Church of Mantes la Jolie", a surprising painting in the treatment of its light and its composition, painted by Albert Dagnaux the last year of his life. The subject itself, the collegiate church of the 12th and 13th centuries occupies only a tiny part of the canvas, enhanced by a halo of almost blinding light and streaked with a plume of dark smoke emanating from a ship. The Seine, as if frozen in the centre, reflects the towers of the collegiate church while isolating the right part of the work which could be considered as another painting. The wispy branches of a tree line explode skyward, while a single figure stands in front of what appears to be a candy-colored gap.