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 Henry Moret  (1856 - 1913)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: landscape, figure, seascape and marine painting

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Ad Code: 2
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
Le Castel-Roch, Baie de Douarnenez
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
Biography from Anderson Galleries, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Henry Moret spent most of his life in Brittany painting Impressionist landscapes.  His artistic career began after completing his formal education at the Ecole National des Beaux-Arts under Jean-Paul Laurens and Jean-Leon Gerome.  Interestingly, Moret rejected his academic training in favor of the painting techniques of the Impressionists.  In 1888, he moved to Pont-Aven where he worked alongside his friends, Paul Gauguin and Emile Bernard, and was introduced to the tenets of Symbolism.  After Gauguin left Pont-Aven in 1891, however, Moret returned to his earlier Impressionist style.  In 1896, he settled in the nearby fishing village of Doelen where his art, a combination of Impressionist handling of the paint and the subjective treatment of color, reached its maturity.

Henry Moret painted copious views of the Breton landscape, almost always including elements of water (the Belon river, the ocean, or the bay of Douarnenez, for example).  He also found fascinating subject matter in the towering cliffs, wind-blown grasses on seaside hills, and stormy skies.  As can be seen with Environs de Belon, Finistere, most of these paintings are completed from a hovering perspective.  Moret provides the viewer with panoramic views of coast where one seems to be perched above the scene, omnisciently surveying the Bretagne landscape.  With this vantage point, he masterfully captures nature in a vast, ambitious manner.

Moret also chose to paint places where forces of nature collide; he found inspiration in the sublime landscape versus static idyllic scenes.  For example, with Environs de Belon, Finistere, it actually appears that the land is sliding or falling into the ocean; Finistere's hills are painted at sharp angles and downward brushstrokes carry the eye tumbling towards the waves.  Moret's aggressive brushstrokes and strong palette also communicate the violence and power of waves matched against the unyielding force of granite outcrops.

Despite the ferocity of this landscape, Moret leads the viewer to observe beauty in nature's awesome power.  Utilizing a vibrant palette of lush greens, deep blues, and fiery peaches, he provides the viewer with an array of rich contrasting colors to consider.  In particular, he lavishes the canvas with dominant, jewel-like blues; blue's traditional complementary color is orange and Moret uses this relationship to his composition's advantage by painting an aquamarine ocean beside striking orange cliffs. The "wild" landscape of Brittany is also tamed by the presence of local people in Environs de Belon, Finistere.  Moret traditionally incorporates two small figures in his landscapes, whether it be women with grazing cows, men fishing, or people sailing, all are seen utilizing this seemingly inhospitable landscape in a symbiotic manner.  In keeping with this artistic practice, Moret's Environs de Belon, Finistere also captures the interesting coexistence of Breton peasants with the blustery shoreline.

Museum Collections Include:
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Musee des Beaux-Arts de Quimper, France; National Museums & Galleries of Wales; Musee National des Douanes, Bordeaux; Musee des Beaux-Arts de Brest, France; Museum of Modern Religious Art, Vatican City, Rome; Queensland National Art Gallery & Museum, Australia; Detroit Institute of Arts, MI; University of Wyoming Art Museum; Hermitage Museum, Leningrad; Sheffield Art Galleries, U.K.; Southhampton Art Gallery, U.K.; Museum of St. Petersburg, Russia; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Norton Gallery and School of Art, West Palm Beach

Biography from Schiller & Bodo:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Known principally as a painter of seascapes and landscapes, Henry Moret was born December 12, 1856, and died May 5, 1913 in Paris.  Moret studied the natural landscape of Normandy and Brittany where he lived most of his life.  His career coincided with the history of French Impressionism, and his role became that of interpreter of the natural beauty and the people of the Breton landscape. 

In Paris, he studied with Carolles and J.P. Laurens, but after his debut at the Salon de Paris of 1880, he evaded academic painting by choosing to live and paint outdoors, away from the artists' mecca.  In 1888 he made contact with Paul Gauguin and Emil Bernard at Pont-Aven where he became part of the group of young artists working in Gauguin's circle there.

Between 1884 and 1894, Moret concentrated on capturing the qualities inherent in the Breton landscape.  After 1894,while still painting Breton subjects, Moret again changed his style to reflect his background as an Impressionist painter -- a background that seems to have restrained him from the unequivocal application of Gauguin's more synthetic style. As seen in the present composition here, painted in 1901, Moret's later style was then a robust form of Impressionism to which he is primarily indebted to Monet.

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