Developments in the 19th Century


Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map



(Between Romanticism and Expressionism)




C o n t e n t s:
Symbolism in France  
Synthetism Pont-Aven school
Intimism Nabis
Aman-Jean Edmond  Anquetin Louis
Bernard Emile Bonnard Pierre
Carriere Eugene Claudel Camille
Denis Maurice Derain Andre
Dongen Kees van Dufy Raoul
Fantin-Latour Henri Filiger Charles
Gauguin Paul Hawkins Louis  
Jacquemin Jeanne   Lacombe Georges
Levy-Dhurmer Lucien Maillol Aristide
Matisse Henri Marquet Albert
Maurin Charless Maxence Edgar
Moreau Gustaves   Mossa Gustave Adolphe 
Osbert Alphonce Point Armand 
Puvis de Chavannes Pierre  Ranson Paul
Redon Odilon Rodin Auguste
Rouault Georges Rousseau Henri
Roussel Ker Xaviers Seon Alexandre
Serusier Paul Vallotton Felix
Vlaminck Maurice
Vuillard Edouard



The Pont-Aven Schooland  and the Nabis

 Maurice Denis's statement that "what Manet was for his generation in 1870, Gauguin was for his in 1890'' generally referred to the manner in which Gauguin encouraged young artists to choose their models and styles freely, and to draw on figurative sources inspired by all cultures, not just those of the West. Between 1886 and 1888, in the town of Pont-Aven in Brittany, Gauguin gathered a circle of painters around him, including Emile Bernard and Louis Anquetin. Their experiments led to the adoption of a style known as cloisonnisme, which was characterized by dark lines enclosing areas of intense, pure, and flat colour. The effect was highly decorative and marked the emergence of a new attitude towards nature (in contrast to Impressionism), in which inspiration came from memory rather than real life and confined itself to the "essence" of an object, rather than its appearance. Under the guidance of Gauguin in Pont-Aven, Paul  Serusier (1863-1927) painted a landscape in 1888 that summarized this new artistic freedom; it was later named The Talisman because of its significance in the development of Symbolism. Once back in Paris, at the Academie Julian, Serusier urged his fellow students to seek out the basic roots of art. Among them were Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Henri-Gabriel Ibels (1867-1936), Paul Ranson (1864-1909), and, later, Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940) and Felix Vallotton (1865- 1925). The young painters formed a group in 1892, taking the name of Nabis, "prophets'' in Hebrew. Within the group, each artist had his own particular role, for example, Denis was the "Nabi aux belles icones", while Bonnard was the "Nabi tres japonard". The group members would all meet periodically in Paul Ranson's studio, which became their "temple". Here, the group experimented with the spiritual, supernatural world of magic through ritual practices. It was Maurice Denis, theorist of the Symbolist movement, who made the famous rallying cry to the avant-garde: "Remember that a picture, before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or any interpretation you want, is essentially a flat surface covered in colours assembled in a certain order". While some Nabis portrayed scenes from Parisian life, others painted imaginary and mythological subjects. Nonetheless, the whole group was united in its contempt for naturalism. They translated feeling and emotion into decorative compositions, ''synthetist" shapes reminiscent of inlay work, and rhythmic colour harmonies modelled on stained-glass windows, medieval enamelwork, and Japanese prints. With their emotional use of colour and line they contributed, at the threshold of the new century, to the breakdown of distinctions between fine and decorative arts. They also heralded the beginnings of Modernism.
  Vallotton Felix

(see collection)
  Felix Vallotton
The Abduction of Europa




In the filiation thus formed, we see how an artistic tendency comes into being, scatters and merges again like quick-silver.
 Puvis de Chavannes had been the first to use colour in unified planes; young Emile Bernard had arrived at this practice by his own devices; Gauguin seized on the intuition and carried it to its highest point of intensity, while
Serusier finally passed it on to his friends, forming with them the group known as Nabis .

We can thus perceive the first steps of an approach which, by an entirely "phylogenetic" logic was  to lead to
Fauvism and the art of  Henri Matisse .
Matisse acknowledged that his painting Luxury I was in direct line of descent from Puvis de Chavannes' Young Girls at the Seaside.

 Nabi is the Hebrew word for prophet. The group designated themselves prophets with a hint of irony; the term at first referred to a group of friends who met once a month, first in a cafe in the passage Brady, then, after
Paul Ranson married, in his town house at, 22 Boulevard du Montparnasse, which they dubbed "the Temple".

Paul Ranson (1862-1909) came of wealthy stock; his father was the Mayor of Limoges in 1861. A portrait by Paul Serusier   shows Ranson as a "Nabi", wearing a chasuble and clutching a bishop's crook while reading from an illuminated manuscript; around his head is a red halo. Ranson drew tapestry cartoons for his wife to embroider. Matisse appreciated his sinuous line and is said to have been influenced by it.

Maurice Denis decided at only fourteen years of age that he wanted to be a "Christian painter". His mild-toned paintings with their flat areas of colour and sinuous line show formal similarities with those of Ranson.
In 1918,
Denis and Georges Desvallieres (1861-1950), founded the Ateliers de l'Art Sacre.

Edouard Vuillard (1868 - 1940), french Symbolism, studied in Paris at the Academie Julien alongside Pierre Bonnard. As a result of their admiration of Serusier and Gauguin’s color theories, the pair formed the Nabis in 1889. His early works were small-scale prints, primarily color lithographs of Parisian life. His mother, with whom he lived with until her death, was a dressmaker, which inspired Vuillard’s interests in textiles and patterns. He began to paint intimate interior scenes, incorporating these decorative aspects into his work. Another hobby of Vuillard’s was photography, which he used to study the innate movements of his friends and family in their everyday life. He gained more recognition after 1900 and was commissioned as a portrait artist.

Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard  also chose to treat the canvas as a flat surface. But at the same time they favoured a novel form of tension between the two-dimensional arrangement they created and the spectator's inclination to interpret the picture as a three-dimensional space.
Both artists avoided the ornamental quality from which
Denis' paintings sometimes suffer, but it was Bonnard who made perhaps the most original use of the revelation afforded by The Talisman, creating an illusion of depth exclusively through the interplay of colours. This is why a Bonnard always seems two-dimensionsal at first glance. To the viewer's delight, space unfolds only gradually, as though another world were unfolding before his eyes. But his lyrical, intimate work lies outside the scope of Symbolism proper, as does that of Vuillard.


Emile Bernard meanwhile felt that he had been cheated of his undeniable originality. He painted a few more paintings in the manner he had devised, including a group of Spanish Musicians (1897).

 Did the young Picasso see this painting? The dominant blue tone and the attitudes of the figures strongly suggest that he did, a presumption that gains in strength when we compare it to Picasso's painting Life (1903).


Emile Bernard
Spanish Musicians
Pablo Picasso

Bernard then sailed for the Middle East where he remained for ten years, painting in a more traditional idiom. Long afterwards, he grumbled to Renoir: "I was twenty years old, he (Gauguin) was forty. It was easy for him to pass for the creator of something he had merely stolen."

 He was unaware that his had been the spark that had set off a great conflagration, and that he could not have kept it to himself if he had wanted to.

Ranson Paul

(see collection)
Paul Ranson
Nabi Landscape
Georges Lacombe (1868-1916), french painter. Much influenced by Gauguin, he became a member of the Nabis. 1892 met Serusier. Gauguin's influence is particularly clear in his wooden sculptures. These treat symbolic (sometimes esoteric) subjects illustrating the cycle of life and death.

Lacombe Georges

(see collection)
Georges Lacombe
The Gray Sea



(Encyclopaedia Britannica) 

Group of artists who, through their widely diverse activities, were a majorinfluence on the art produced in France during the late 19th century. Preaching that a work of art is the end product and visual expression of an artist's synthesis of nature into personal aesthetic metaphors and symbols, they paved the way for the early 20th-century development of abstract and nonrepresentational art.

The Nabis were greatly influenced by Japanese woodcuts, French Symbolist painting, and English Pre-Raphaelite art. Their primary inspiration, however, stemmed from the so-called Pont-Aven school which centred upon the painter
Gauguin Paul. Under Gauguin's direct guidance, Serusier Paul, the group's founder, painted the first Nabi work, “Landscape at the Bois d'Amour at Pont-Aven” (also called the “Talisman,” 1888).

Armed with his painting and the authority of Gauguin's teachings, Serusier returned to Paris from Pont-Aven and converted many of his artist friends, who received his aesthetic doctrines as a mystical revelation. Assuming the name Nabis (from Hebrew navi, “prophet,” or “seer”), the original members of the group were the French artists
Denis Maurice (with Serusier the group's main theoretician), Bonnard Pierre, Henri-Gabriel Ibels, Roussel Ker Xavier, Ranson Paul, Vuillard Edouard, and Rene Piot. Later, a Dutch painter, Jan Verkade, and the Swiss-born Vallotton Felix  joined the group, as did two French sculptors, Lacombe Georges and Maillol Aristide.

In 1891 the Nabis held their first exhibition, attempting in their works to illustrate
Denis's dictum: “A picture, before being a war horse, a nude woman, or some anecdote, is essentially a flat surface covered by colours in a certain order.” They soon began to apply this idea to such varied works as posters, stained glass, theatre sets, and book illustrations. But dissensions and desertions quickly occurred within the group, which finally disbanded in 1899. Only Vuillard and Bonnard, who came to call themselves Intimists, and Maillol continued to produce major works of art.

Bonnard Pierre

(see collection)
Pierre Bonnard
The Palm


(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

- variety of late 19th- and early 20th-century painting that made an intense exploration of the domestic interior as subject matter. It was practiced principally by
Bonnard Pierre and Vuillard Edouard, the two most distinguished members of the Nabis. To convey the warmth, comfort, and quiet isolation of interior scenes, Bonnard and Vuillard used the Impressionist broken-colour technique of capturing the light and atmosphere of the fleeting moment. But unlike the Impressionists, who derived their colours from precise observation of the visual world, these painters exaggerated and distorted natural colour to expressmood.

Bonnard and Vuillard displayed a strong decorative sense in the arrangement of dense areas of colour. Using rich, subdued colours, Vuillard produced paintings characterized by harmonious composition and exquisite form. Bonnard, somewhat less concerned with formal structure, infused a playful tenderness into his bright, gently coloured scenes (which usually included the unobtrusive figure of his wife). Although Intimism did not attract a wealth of followers as a movement, its achievements were considerable enough to give it an influential place in the art of the period. The term Intimism is best characterized by Andre Gide's description of Vuillard's four-panel Figures and Interiors (1896) as art “speaking in a low tone, suitable to confidences.”

Denis Maurice

(see collection)
Maurice Denis



Aristide Maillol was an artist with a large and varied range of interests. During his highly productive life he worked in many media, concentrating first on painting within the
 group, then on tapestry and, later, wood-engraving, including fine, limited edition woodcuts, which he produced for a version of Virgil's Eclogues (1913). During the 1890s he began to sculpt in wood and to make terracotta statuettes, which Vollard later arranged to be cast in bronze. Maillols sculpture was, in style, the exact opposite of Rodin's. Where Rodin's style was emotional, passionate, and highly expressive, Maillol's style was calm and meditative, with smooth, flowing lines. A trip to Greece in 1906 had helped to define Maillol's idyllic classical style, although the influence of the sculpture of his friend Renoir, with its round and smooth female shapes, made a significant contribution, as did the sculpture of The Bathers by Henri Matisse.
Maillol Aristide

(see collection)
Aristide Maillol

Ranson Paul

(see collection)
Paul Ranson
Zwei Akte

Bonnard Pierre

(see collection)
Pierre Bonnard
Woman with Dog

Roussel Ker Xavier

(see collection)
Ker Roussel
Faun carrying a nymph on his back

Lacombe Georges

(see collection)
Georges Lacombe
Mort et Volupte

Vuillard Edouard

(see collection)
Edouard Vuillard
Two Schoolboys

Denis Maurice

(see collection)
Maurice Denis
Noli Me Tangere.

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