View of Saint Gervais
Jules Louis Philippe Coignet (1798-1860)

View of Saint Gervais, 1843

Paper laid down on wood, H. 0.35 m; W. 0.49 m

Inscribed on lower left: St Gervais 6 Juillet 1843 / Mettre la pierre plus à gauche / afin d’avoir un plus grand développement de sapins à droite.

Provenance: Private collection, France.

Jules Louis Philippe Coignet was born in Paris in 1798 and died there in 1860. He was a noted landscape painter who had studied under Jean-Victor Bertin. Coignet began painting outside in 1824 in the forest of Fontainebleau, encouraging his students to do the same. One of his specialities was painting tree ‘portraits’, of which there are many examples, both as finished paintings and as sketches in oil paint. Two notable examples are the ancient oak, with a dolmen and meditating monk in the background, which is in the Quimper museum, and the dramatic “Oak tree and reeds” in the Musée Jean de la Fontaine at Château-Thierry. As a pioneer of open air painting Coignet is considered as a member of the Barbizon school, those artists who were later associated with the village of Barbizon, where he had painted long before they settled there. He travelled a good deal in his own country as well as in the rest of Europe and the East, and produced a considerable number of landscapes. A regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon exhibitions, he was awarded a gold medal there in 1824 and received state recognition by being made a knight of the Legion of Honour in 1836.

As a painter, Coignet holds a middle place between the Idealists and the Realists, and his work is remarkable for the combination of vigour and delicacy in the effects of light and shade, for poetical feeling, for a firm brush, and occasionally for grandeur of conception. This is particularly evident in “The Ruins of the Temple of Paestum“, now in Munich’s Neue Pinakothek. There are times too when his paintings have an atmospheric, almost Impressionist effect. One example is The coastal sunset, in the Louvre.

In addition to producing many watercolours, pastels and etchings, he wrote a book on landscape painting and published a series of sixty Italian views in 1825.