Achille Emile Othon Friesz (1879 – 1949)

Achille Emile Othon Friesz (1879 – 1949). Landscape, c.1905. Watercolor and gouache on cardboard measures 6 3/8 x 11 7/8 inches (16 x 30.5 cm). Depicted here is a fauve landscape in highly keyed colors distinctive of the artist’s period c.1905-09. The delicate, animated brushwork dates the piece to c.1905. Soon thereafter, the brushwork became heavy, muscular and quite gestural. Compare with Le port de Honfleur, 1905.

Verso: Depicted is a gentleman seated before a pipe organ (perhaps this was the sitter’s vocation). Signed lower right, recto. Condition is very good with no loss or inpainting. There are fade lines in margins as documented here, most easily observed in right and left margins. These were created by the original matting. Current matting is c.1960 (we removed frame) and doesn’t correspond to these fade lines, so it is easy yo conclude the piece had an earlier frame and matte presentation.

Achille-Émile Othon Friesz who later called himself just Othon Friesz (6 February 1879 – 10 January 1949), a native of Le Havre, was a French artist of the Fauvist movement.

Othon Friesz was born in Le Havre, the son of a long line of shipbuilders and sea captains. He went to school in his native city. It was while he was at the Lycée that he met his lifelong friend Raoul Dufy. He and Dufy studied at the Le Havre School of Fine Arts in 1895-96 and then went to Paris together for further study. In Paris, Friesz met Henri MatisseAlbert Marquet, and Georges Rouault. Like them, he rebelled against the academic teaching of Bonnat and became a member of the Fauves, exhibiting with them in 1907. The following year, Friesz returned to Normandy and to a much more traditional style of painting, since he had discovered that his personal goals in painting were firmly rooted in the past. He opened his own studio in 1912 and taught until 1914 at which time he joined the army for the duration of the war. He resumed living in Paris in 1919 and remained there, except for brief trips to Toulon and the Jura Mountains, until his death in 1949.

During the last thirty years of his life, he painted in a style completely removed from that of his earlier colleagues and his contemporaries. Having abandoned the lively arabesques and brilliant colors of his Fauve years, Friesz returned to the more sober palette he had learned in Le Havre from his professor Charles Lhuillier and to an early admiration for PoussinChardin, and Corot. He painted in a manner that respected Cézanne‘s ideas of logical composition, simple tonality, solidity of volume, and distinct separation of planes. A faint baroque flavor adds vigor to his landscapes, still lifes, and figure paintings.

Othon Friesz is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.