A Beautiful Oil on Canvas Painting of Sailboats and Cargos in the Old Harbor of Marseille by Frédéric Montenard.
Coming from an old Provencal family, Frédéric Montenard was born on May 17, 1849 in Paris and died in Besse-sur-Issole on February 11, 1926.
He was admitted to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the studio of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
He exhibited for the first time at the Paris Salon in 1872 and exhibited there regularly throughout his career.
In 1873, with several painter friends, he created the Toulon Fine Arts workshop.
At the 1883 Salon, he met success when 2 of his paintings were acquired by the French State.
He won a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition of 1889, then participated with Puvis de Chavannes in the creation of the National Society of Fine Arts in 1890, the year in which he was named Knight of the Legion of Honor.
Montenard was named official painter of the French Navy in 1921.
After the end of the First World War, he settled permanently in Besse sur Issole and from then on favored the Provencal sceneries for his paintings.
This particular painting was commissioned by a shipowner from Marseilles and had remained in the family until now.
We have here an extraordinary representation of the Old Port of Marseille in full activity!
This is a true snapshot into the end of the 19th century, when sailing cargo ships still rubbed shoulders with steam cargo ships, the smoking chimneys proving how vital the port activity was at that time…
In the background, proudly standing is “Notre Dame de la Garde” or “the Good Mother” for the sailors and locals, which dominates and protects with her beauty the city that stretches out at her feet as well as the sailors going out to sea.
In this lively canvas, shines the will of the shipowner who requested that be featured in a single painting the cargoes linked to his activity, and the representation of his faith, crucial for the time and the city.
Montenard knew how to render with his talent and, with a judicious choice of colors, a hectic industrial atmosphere, tinted with a serenity featured particularly by the cathedral appearing in soft shimmering shadows.
The decision to treat the City, the hill and the Cathedral in graded dark pink tones, allows the yellow tones suffusing the skies to create a striking contrast, while enhancing the artist’s vision with an infinite softness and pervading calm, despite the important activity perceived on the docks.
This painting is on its original canvas, in excellent condition, signed lower right, presented in an original gilded wood frame.
The canvas dimensions are: 27 1/2 inches X 39 1/2 inches
The frame dimensions are: 34 inches X 46 inches
Provenance : private collection Marseille France