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 Evariste Carpentier  (1845 - 1922)

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Lived/Active: Belgium/France      Known for: impressionist landscape and rural genre painting, teaching

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Biography from Anthony's Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Evariste Carpentier was born a farmer’s son in Kuurne, West Flanders in 1845.   His strong artistic aptitude manifested itself at an early age while on the farm.  He would draw incessantly, taking his inspiration from the busy rural life around him. After falling in love with the exhibited paintings during a visit to the museum of Kortrijk, he knew immediately that he wanted to be a painter.   His parents, though surprised by his artistic aspirations, were very supportive and encouraged him by enrolling him in a painting course at the Academy of Kortrijk, directed by Henri De Pratere.

In 1864, he enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp where he quickly established himself at the head of the class, thereby earning the privilege of having a private studio in the Academy itself.  In order to be free to develop his own techniques, however, he set up his own studio in Antwerp in 1872.   He would work relentlessly, painting primarily genre scenes and religious and historical subjects in a very precise academic style.

In 1876, Evariste returned to Kuurne to live with his sister while he recovered from an old wound in his leg that refused to heal.  Three years later, on the advice of his doctor, he left his hometown for the south of France to help speed his convalescence.  Stopping on the way in Paris, he discovered his old friend Jan Van Beers who persuaded him to stay and share his studio with him.  He painted a series of studio genre pieces, which brought him immediate success, selling them to the wealthy Parisian middle-class.   In 1881, he was able to discard his crutches and establish his own studio near Montmartre.

Up to this point, Evariste Carpentier had painted in a very “academic” style, making only half-hearted attempts to follow the then current art trends of “realism” and “impressionism”.   In 1884 he discovered the pastoral paintings of Bastien Lepage, and that marked a decisive turning point in his career.  As a result, he moved to St-Pierre-le-Nemours near the Forest of Fontainebleau, and for the first time in his 39 years he felt liberated, being able to paint from morning till night in the open air.  His style turned toward realism and from there toward the freedom and brightness of impressionism.

Returning to Belgium in 1886, like Jean François Millet, Honoré Daumier, Jules Breton, Bastien Lepage, and others before him in France; he became key to the establishment of Impressionism in the country of his birth.  By 1894 he emerged as one of the leaders of the Impressionist movement in Belgium.  In 1896 he was offered and accepted a position as a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts in Liége, where he introduced this “new style” of painting.  He was considered the official innovator of Luminism and Impressionism, and consequently, those under his tutelage were prepared to understand and apply those principles.   He and his followers slowly and gradually established a true Liège School of painting, separate and distinct from other forms of Impressionism; one which combined freedom of expression, light, and vivid color to produce one of the finest periods in Western art.

After many struggles and controversies, Evariste Carpentier was appointed director of the Fine Arts Academy in Liège in 1904 for a term of three years.  Though the many disputes caused by his appointment deeply hurt him, he fulfilled his task with his characteristic dedication.  His term was in fact extended for another three years. He continued to work as he had done all his life until 1919.   On September 12, 1922 he peacefully passed away.

Source:
Evariste Carpentier, Annick Lemoine

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