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Johan Barthold Jongkind
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
Lathrop, Netherlands
Death Date: 
Death Place: 
Côte-Saint-André, France
A Dutch painter, etcher and watercolorist who spent much of his working life in France, Johan Barthold Jongkind’s vivid sense of color and light, bold brushstrokes and strong sense of composition had a strong influence on several Impressionist artists in the 1860s and 1870s. He expressed himself equally well in his etchings. Jongkind began his artistic studies at age 18 when he left his home in Lattrop, near the German border, to study in The Hague with Andreas Schelfhout (1787-1870). A grant from the Dutch government in 1843 (the first of several) allowed him to continue his studies. In 1845 Prince Willem of Orange (later King Willem III, 1817-1890) allowed Jongkind to study in Paris with Eugène Isabey (1803-1886), a noted marine painter, again supported by a grant. In Isabey’s studio he met Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), Eugène Louis Boudin (1824-1898) and others who would become lifetime friends. While he depicted a variety of landscapes and city views in his art, many of Jongkind’s works depict marine scenes, inspired by his trips to Brittany and Normandy. His first such trip in 1847 led to his painting Un Port de Mer, the first of many works he exhibited at the Salons over the next decades. In perhaps 1850 he met the art dealer Pierre-Firmin Martin (1817-1891), who became a strong supporter of Jongkind and other Pre-Impressionists. Despite a medal at the Salon of 1852 and the sale of his works to collectors and the French state, Jongkind became depressed after his works shown at the 1855 Exposition Universelle received little recognition, his submission to the 1855 Salon was rejected and his mother died. He returned to Holland at the end of that year, and remained there for five years, living in poverty. To assist the artist, in 1856 Martin organized a sale of 217 paintings and drawings Jongkind had left in his Paris studio, but the sale was not successful. Another sale in 1860 of works donated by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875), Rousseau, Jean-François Millet (1814-1875), Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878) and others to support Jongkind was successful, and the proceeds were used to pay off his debts and bring him back to Paris. Soon after Jongkind’s return to Paris, Martin introduced him to Madame Josephine Fesser-Borrhée (1819-1891), a Dutch woman who had lived in Paris since 1839 and was married to Alexandre Fesser (?-1875), a chef who worked for various members of the French nobility. She brought Jongkind into their family circle, and he had a close relationship with her for the rest of his life, although she remained married to Fesser until his death. The association improved Jongkind’s mental state, and his art improved thereafter. He traveled frequently with Madame Fesser to Brittany and Normandy in summers, and to other parts of Europe. During a trip to the coast in 1862 he met Claude Monet (1840-1926), leading Monet to write that he “owed to Jongkind the final education of my eye.” (See Cunningham, p. 27). In that year Jongkind released the first of his etchings, six views of Holland published by Alfred Cadart (1828-1875). He also contributed etchings to the portfolios of etchings published by Cadart for the Société des Aqua-fortistes (Society of Etchers), with one etching by him published in each of the five portfolios published from 1862 through 1867. Jongkind exhibited paintings at the Salon des Refusés of 1863 as well as the French Academy’s Salons of 1864, 1865, 1866 and 1870, but his submission was rejected in 1873. Thereafter he declined to submit works to either official exhibitions or the Impressionist exhibitions, but enjoyed continued sales of his works. Madame Fesser’s husband died in 1875; in 1878 her son Jules, then married with a family, bought a large house at the Côte Saint André, which accommodated Jongkind and Madame Fesser as well. Jongkind spent most of the rest of his life in Côte Saint André, visiting Paris from time to time, and continued to paint oils and water colors until the end of his life. Suffering failing health in the 1880s, he died in Côte Saint André in February, 1891, followed by Madame Fesser ten months later. (TNB 5/2010) Selected bibliography: Bailly-Herzberg, Janine. L’Eau-forte de peintre au dix-neuvième siècle: La Société des aquafortistes, 1862–1867. Paris: Leonce Laget, 1972. Cunningham, Charles C. Jongkind and the Pre-Impressionists: Painters of the École Saint-Simeon. Exhibition catalog. Northampton: Smith College, and Williamstown: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1976. Hefting, Victorine, ed. Jongkind d’après sa correspondence. Utrecht: Haentjens Dekker & Gumbert, 1969. Melot, Michel, Robert Erich Wolf (trans.). Graphic art of the Pre-Impressionists. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1981.