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Johan Barthold Jongkind: 1819 - 1891

Johan Barthold Jongkind was an important figure in the development of Impressionism, particularly through his influence on Claude Monet. He was born at Lattrop, near Rotterdam, on June 3, 1819, and studied under the landscape painter Andreas Schelfhout at the Academy of The Hague. In 1845 he met Eugene Isabey, whose influence is to be seen in his early work. The following year he went to Paris, where he worked under Isabey and Francois Edouard Picot, exhibiting at the Paris Salon in 1848, and again in 1852. Two famous art critics and writers, first Charles Baudelaire, and later Emile Zola, admired him and wrote of him in several magazines and newspapers.

Jongkind divided his time for some years between The Hague, Paris, and the Normandy coast. At an exhibition arranged by Count Doria, his works were exhibited with paintings by Corot, Daubigny, and Constant Troyon. He underwent great hardship, and also suffered from persecution mania and depressions. In 1860, Corot, Isabey, Theodore Rousseau, and Francois Bovin organized a sale for his profit, and in the same year Monet commented on Jongkind's crazed state of mind in a letter to Eugene Boudin. When Jongkind was painting in Le Havre, he had been introduced to Monet, who in turn introduced him to Boudin in 1862. Jongkind was to play an important part in Monet's early development, exercising on him a more decisive influence than that of Boudin. He helped young Monet to develop his abilities, and to look closely and clearly at nature.

Jongkind's own style had matured by about 1860 and, although he did not do any outdoorpainting in oils, he made vivid sketches and watercolors direct from nature, always trying to show exactly what was before him. In 1864 he painted two views of Notre Dame in Paris, one seen on a winter morning, the other at sunset. In this way the real subject of his paintings became the atmospheric conditions of the moment rather than the actual object before him.

In later years Jongkind traveled around France, Belgium, and Switzerland with his friend and pupil Mme. Fesser, who succeeded to some extent in calming his nervous state. They visited Lake Geneva and Isere, where Jongkind settled after 1880, though he paid occasional visits to Paris. His late works, including views of Isere, were very bold in color. Jongkind ended his life in a state of madness, dying at Cote-Saint-Andre, Isere, on February 9, 1891.

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