It has been said of this Burgundian, born with the fall of the Empire in 1814, that he was the closest precursor to Claude Monet, or even Alfred Sisley. Some of the landscapes of Antoine Chintreuil, this little-known painter who liked to say "one must live in nature", have striking similarities with the later paintings of the Impressionists. A section is dedicated to him at the eponymous museum in Pont de Vaux, his birthplace.
Professor of drawing at the College of Pont de Vaux, Antoine Chintreuil joined Paris at the age of 24, in 1838. He worked in a bookstore, then he left his job and frequented a circle of artists including the Desbrosse brothers, sculptors and painters. The youngest of them, Jean, will become his most faithful friend, to the point that they rest in the same tomb in the cemetery of Septeuil.
He was accepted at the 1847 Salon and would be permanently influenced by Corot, who gave him a taste for painting landscapes in the open air and said to him, in the form of a farewell, "Now, my love, you have to walk alone".
Chintreuil moved to Igny in 1850 where he met Daubigny. Some of their paintings show beautiful similarities, like the evening skies, torn with clouds in a pale clarity.
Other landscapes resemble those that Alfred Sisley would paint 20 years later.
Installed in Septeuil, Antoine Chintreuil will end his life there in 1873, not without having developed a way of painting the impalpable, with increasingly subtle touches, to the point that Léon Lagrange, from 1864, said of him in the Gazette des Fine Arts: "...through the mists of this new Wagner, I see dawning the landscapes of the future..."
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In his art history lectures, Fabrice Roy combines the past with the present, in a poetic and playful evocation of the French 19th century...