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Alexis Jean Fournier

 (1865 - 1948)
Alexis Jean Fournier was active/lived in Minnesota, Indiana.  Alexis Fournier is known for impressionist seasonal landscape, still life, genre painting.

Alexis Jean Fournier

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Alexis Jean Fournier
Born on the fourth of July, 1865 in St. Paul, Minnesota, Alexis Jean Fournier was one of the most flamboyant and enduring figures of the Arts and Crafts movement and was also an Impressionist painter of major importance in Minneapolis from 1883 to 1893. Fournier, a Barbizon-style artist, whose career as the "Roycroft Court Painter" spanned over forty-five years, has been lauded as one of the most prolific artists of the Arts and Crafts period as well as an influential force in Elbert Hubbard's Roycroft community in East Aurora, New York.

Although the photography career of his son Paul was comparatively less impressive in terms of longevity and notoriety, the works of both the elder and the younger Fournier helped diversify and change American art history as well as contribute to the progressive thinking of the Roycrofts. Had photography been considered an art form on the level of Barbizon and Impressionist painting during the Arts and Crafts era, perhaps the younger Fournier would have enjoyed a career as successful and praised as that of the elder.

Fournier was born in St.Cloud, Minnesota, to French Canadian parents. By age 14, he was working as a sign painter and scenery artist for vaudeville and, although he had virtually no formal artistic training, had sold several pieces, mostly landscapes, by the time he was 16. In 1886 he became a student of Douglas Volk, ultimately setting up a professional studio in Minneapolis.

One of Fournier's patrons was J.J. Smith, who hired Fournier to be the staff artist on an archaeological trip to the Southwest. Following this trip, Fournier painted a 50 x 12 foot panoramic mural called "The Cliff Dwellers." The painting was intended for exhibit at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, where it is likely, but not documented, that Fournier met Elbert Hubbard for the first time.

Hubbard, the beloved spiritual guide and business leader of the Roycroft community of artisans and craftspeople, would eventually become one of Fournier's greatest patrons and admirers. "The Cliff Dwellers" ultimately disappeared, having been sold without record, and its location is still unknown.

In addition to his activities with Roycroft, Fournier painted at the artist colonies in Woodstock, New York; Provincetown, Massachusetts; and Brown County, Indiana.

Roycroft's Court Painter and His Photo Secessionist Son
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
Ann Haselbauer - Just Glass - 7/16/02

Biography from From Here To Antiquity
Alexis Jean Fournier [1865-1948]
American Arts and Crafts / Impressionist Painter

Alexis Jean Fournier is an American-born Arts and Crafts and Impressionist painter.  He was the chosen painter of the Roycroft group—the Arts and Crafts movement in America—and its leader Elbert Hubbard [1856-1915].

Fournier grew up in Wisconsin.  He moved to Minneapolis at age fourteen to become a sign painter.  He sought formal training at the Minneapolis School of Art under Douglas Volk [1856-1935] and later in 1893 at the Academie Julian in Paris.

In 1891, Fournier traveled to the American Southwest with patron H. Jay Smith to make a study of the landscape to paint a 50 foot mural for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

Fournier would travel to Paris several more times between 1895 and 1901.  He would spend time after 1903 in East Aurora, NY at the Roycroft community.

He is known to have painted along the Mississippi River, in Minneapolis, in Brown County as part of the Brown County Impressionist painters of Indiana and in East Aurora, near Buffalo, NY in association with the Roycroft colony.

In 1948, Fournier died from injuries sustained from slipping on an icy sidewalk.

Original biography written by David Smernoff of From Here To Antiquity, October 31, 2016.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis MN
Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul MN
Minnesota Museum of American Art, St Paul MN
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN

"In the Mainstream: The Art of Alexis Jean Fournier" by Rena Neumann Coen, 1985.
"Minnesota Impressionists" by Rena Neumann Coen, 1996.
"American Impressionism" by William H. Gerdts, 1984.
"Minnesota 1900: Art and Life on the Upper Mississippi 1890-1915" edited by Michael Conforti, 1994.
"Roycroft's Court Painter and His Photo Secessionist Son" by Ann Haselbauer, Style 8, number 1, February, 1995, pages 31–33.
"Who Was Who in American Art" by Peter Falk
"Alexis Jean Fournier: A Barbizon in East Aurora", by Burchfield Center, Western New York Forum for American Art, State University College at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, 1979.
"Alexis Jean Fournier, the Last American Barbizon" by Rena Neumann Coen, Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, MN, 1985.
"The Cliff Dwellers" by Jay H. Smith, Chicago, IL, World's Columbian Exposition, 1893.

Biography from Kramer Gallery, Inc.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Alexis Fournier received his earliest art training as a sign painter and then as a student at the Minneapolis School of Art. The support of Twin Cities businessmen made it possible for the young artist to pursue his studies in France with the masters of the Academie Julian, which steeped him in the tradition of open-air painting associated with the Barbizon School.

Fournier worked in sets or groups of paintings from an early date. In the late 1880s he painted a series of canvases along the Mississippi River near Minneapolis. Over the next two decades he painted a collection he called "Homes and Haunts of the Barbizon Masters," twenty canvases depicting the houses of Millet, Daubigny, and other French masters, in homage to their plein-air style. The series was exhibited in various American cities, but was dispersed to private collections.

In addition to his Minnesota connections, Fournier is also associated with the Brown County Impressionist painters of Indiana. His works in that area are frequently high-keyed in their brilliant color, with richly worked surfaces. Fournier also had a long residence in East Aurora, near Buffalo, New York, in association with Elbert Hubbard's Roycroft colony there. His landscapes are typically atmospheric views of pleasant countryside, often with idyllic traces of human occupation in the form of houses, gardens, or flocks.

Written and submitted by Thomas O'Sullivan, museum curator and freelance writer.



William H. Gerdts, AMERICAN IMPRESSIONISM (1984)

Michael Conforti, ed., MINNESOTA 1900: ART AND LIFE ON THE UPPER MISSISSIPPI 1890-1915 (1994)

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis MN
Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul MN
Minnesota Museum of American Art, St Paul MN
Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame IN

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About  Alexis Jean Fournier

Born:  1865 - St. Cloud, Minnesota
Died:   1948 - Lockawanna, New York
Known for:  impressionist seasonal landscape, still life, genre painting

Essays referring to
Alexis Jean Fournier

San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915