EUGÈNE FROMENTIN PAINTINGS FOR SALE & BIOGRAPHY
Fromentin lived his early childhood in La Rochelle, a place where his grandfather had served as a parliamentary advocate and his father – although he sometimes painted – had worked as a doctor. Eugène’s brother went down the path of medical studies but Eugène went into law. Although he was going to study law he was very interested in literature and published poetry periodically throughout his studies at the lycée.
Around the age of 20, he moved to Paris to start his law studies. He completed them, got his diploma, and worked as a solicitor’s clerk. Despite that he continued to be enthralled with literature and contributed articles to various local journals. In addition, he had developed a passion for painting, one so strong that it motivated him to pursue a career in art. It was important, however, that he get his family’s consent to leave the path of law studies. His father agreed to let him become an artist as long as he did it in a strict manner and got proper, formal training.
Fromentin studied under Rémond for less than a year before switching to study under Cabat. Cabat’s effect on Fromentin ended up being negligible although Fromentin thanked him profusely throughout his career and throughout his life. What did have a greater effect on him was an exhibit of oriental paintings by Prosper Marilhat that he visited in 1844. It left such a profound impression on him that he decided to travel to Algeria rather than Rome as he had originally planned. He travelled with his close friend Armand du Mesnil, whose niece he would marry soon after.
He returned to Algeria once again in 1852, this time with his young wife, and spent time in Mustafa, Biskra and Laghouat. Orientalism was in full swing then with Belly, Dehodencq, Ziem, Tournemine, Guillamet and others very much in public view. Fromentin’s debut at the Salon roughly coincided with the arrival of the Second Empire during a period of important social change brought in by the revolutionary upheavals of 1848. Fromentin exhibited at the Salon for the first time the year before, in 1847, between his two trips to Algeria. He showed a Landscape near La Rochelle and two studies from Algeria: Mosque near Algiers and Gorges of the Chiffa. He was awarded a silver medal two years later. He submitted eleven paintings to the 1850 Salon.
He then visited Algeria for a third time, staying for two years which led him to return with countless sketches and drafts as well as two compositions which are considered to be some of his finest work – Summer in the Sahara shown in 1856 and a Year in Sahel shown in 1858. These works were followed by Dominique, which came a few years later. He was awarded a gold medal and made a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1859; he got another gold medal at the 1867 Exposition Universelle and was promoted to an Officer in the Légion in 1869. His work Falcon Hunt was displayed at the 1873 Salon and is now in the Musée du Louvre. As an orientalist, Fromentin can be compared to Decamps and Delacroix and was clearly inspired by both of their works. His first connections to the East had been indirect – through the Marilhat exhibit, which motivated him to travel there himself. His depiction of the Orient in his art was subdued and temperate, which contributed to his popularity.
Art Institute of Chicago, IL
Brooklyn Museum, NY
Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, NY
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Louvre Museum, Paris
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Musée d'Orsay, Paris
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery, London
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA