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Armand Guillaumin (French 1841-1927)



In 1886, shortly after Van Gogh's arrival in Paris in March, Guillaumin's work was recognized by a powerful new art critical voice, Felix Fénéon.


‘Here we are before the Guillaumins. Immense skies, overheated skies, where clouds push one another back and forth in a battle of greens, purples, mauves and yellows; others are set in twilight, where the huge amorphous mass of vaporous cloud pushes up from a low horizon swept by crosswinds. Under these weighty and sumptuous skies, huddle violet countrysides, painted with broad impasto, where laborers and grazing alternate. The trees cringe’.



Coucher du Soleil dans la Cruese is an example of Guillaumin’s mature Fauve style, characterised by the expressive use of colour and constructive brushstroke. The composition bears the stamp of Guillaumin’s friendship with Van Gogh, who in the late-1880s alerted him to radical chromatic innovations of the Pont-Aven group.


The painting depicts a view of the Creuse Valley, one of Guillaumin’s favourite places, which he had frequented since the early 1890s, being known as the unofficial leader of the so-called Crozant School. Guillaumin was one of many prominent artists who admired the picturesque landscapes of Creuse. It was here in 1889 that Claude Monet conceived his first true series, paving way for the artistic method that three decades later was to find its most accomplished expression in the famed Waterlilies.


A little on the life of this extraordinary artist….

In 1891 Armand Guillaumin won the French lottery which made him financially secure for life.

The effect of money on art is significant…Pissarro thought Monet’s work was far too ‘romantic’ because he was looking for sales –in Guillaumin’s case his money set him free allowing him to paint what and how he wanted.

Guillaumin was a significant member of the Impressionist group and more than any other impressionist specialised in scenes of industry or modern infrastructure.  Both Cezanne and Van Gogh were his close companions, however he was colouristically more daring than his colleagues using a pinkish tint for soil as a foil for violet shadows. 

In general over the 1880s and 1990s his landscapes are intensely luminous with a density, crispness and sharpness that shimmer in rich greens, oranges and violets, they also attained a spatial clarity that counterbalanced and provided a firm framework for his coloristic boldness.


These are precisely the characteristics that would have appealed both to Cézanne and Van Gogh.  What Cézanne, Guillaumin, Signac temporarily, and later Van Gogh shared was the notion of drawing in colour. Indeed, it is likely during those years that Guillaumin and Cézanne painted together as equals, much as Cézanne did with Pissarro.



Guillaumin's work is known few examples in public collections, although many of them are outstanding. The Musée d'Orsay owns several because Doctor Paul Gachet was an early collector and supporter of Guillaumin, but they do not travel. More are in the equally non-circulating Collection Personnaz at the Orsay. A few fine examples do exist in the United States—in the Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum, and at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Swiss collector Oscar Ghez was completely enamoured of Guillaumin's pictures. His private collection became the Musée du Petit-Palais in Geneva, which possesses between 35 to 40 works by the painter.


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