Armand Jean-Baptiste Guillaumin
French, 1841-1927

Armand Jean-Baptiste Guillaumin was the longest surviving Impressionist, the most loyal and probably the least known, he was born in Paris of a family that had recently moved there from central France , where as a boy he spent much of his time. At the age of 15 he started working in his uncle's shop, while studying drawing in the evenings. In 1860 he obtained a job on the Paris-Orleans railway, continuing to oil paint in his spare time. In 1861 he entered the Académie Suisse and met Paul Cezanne and Camille Pissarro, with whom he was to remain on close terms for the rest of his life. Together they found employment painting blinds. They spent some time together at Pontoise, and Cézanne was greatly impressed by “A view of the Seine” that Guillaumin painted in 1871 which hangs at the Museum of Fine Arts , Boston . At this time all three were frequent visitors to Dr. Gachet's house at Auvers and it was there that Cézanne did a portrait-etching of Guillaumin. Cézanne also made a reproduced oil painting by him of the Seine at Bercy in 1876, Kunsthalle , Hamburg . One of the more impoverished members of his artistic circle, Guillaumin was obliged in 1872 to take a job with the department of bridges and roads.

Guillaumin exhibited at the Salon des Refuses starting in 1863 and in many of the Impressionist Exhibitions. His prospects improved when the dealer Auguste Portier, a protégé of Durand-Ruel, started to represent him. During the late 1880s Guillaumin's work became more subjective, and he began to use color more expressively, creating work that is considered to anticipate the Fauves. He became friends with Vincent van Gogh during this period and Theo sold some of his paintings. The vigor of his brushwork and the obvious lyrical zest that informs his landscapes bring him close to van Gogh, and are acknowledged as an influence on the young Matisse. After a lifetime of financial struggles, Guillaumin was finally assured financial stability when he won a large prize in the Loterie Nationale in 1891. In his latter years, Guillaumin traveled between Agay, Crozant, and Saint-Palais-sur-Mer throughout the year, painting many works in each environment.