Promenade Au Bord Du Lac.
🎨 Painted by Marie-François Firmin-Girard.
Born: 29 May 1838, Poncin, France.
Died: 8 January 1921, Montluçon, France. (aged 83)
🖼 Oil on canvas 29,2 x 41,3 cm.
🏛 Location: Sotheby's, New York.
📝 Firmin-Girard entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at the tender age of 16.
He made his debut at the Paris Salon at the age of 21 where his choice of exhibits showed him to be a talented young man, however as yet to find a defining style.
He had the distinction of having three paintings accepted, but they were unusually diverse: a genre scene; a historical work; and that perennial religious subject, a Saint Sebastian.
Two years later, at the Salon of 1861, his classical painting, La Mort de Priamus, won the second Prix de Rome.
Following this success two years later his first major contemporary genre scene, Après le bal, was awarded a third class medal. In many ways an ambitious young artist like Firmin-Girard might have been disappointed not to receive a higher grade of medal, but the picture was purchased by Princesse Mathilde, probably the single most influential collector in Paris at the time. By that one purchase his success was assured in fashionable French society.
His bright, clear palette shows an affinity with the Impressionists. Meanwhile his distinctively short, almost stippled brush strokes produce surface textures quite unlike the smooth glossy surfaces of the diehard academics.
The last decades of Firmin-Girard’s life are less well known. Although his paintings continued to sell very well in commercial galleries and auction houses, he seems to have retired to the countryside at some point in the early twentieth century.
Perhaps he felt the need to escape from yet another war between France and Germany as World War I began its downward spiral into ever-increasing horror; or perhaps he simply felt it was time to return to a quieter life outside of Paris.
Whatever his reasons, Firmin-Girard moved to the small town of Montluçon in the Auvergne region, and probably not coincidentally, far south of the fighting in the north.
He died there at age 83 in 1921.
(Fig 2, 3, 4: Details).