Eugène FROMENTIN (La Rochelle , 1820 - Saint-Maurice, 1876)
‘Among the younger reputations, one of the most solidly established is M. Fromentin. He is neither precisely a landscape nor a genre painter; these two territories are too restricted to contain his free and supple fancy. If I said of him that he is a teller of travellers’ tales, I should not be saying enough, for there are many travellers with neither poetry nor soul, and his soul is one of the rarest and most poetic I know.’ With these words Charles Baudelaire, writing about the Salon of 1859, gives an appraisal of the work of Eugène Fromentin that underscores the artist’s lifelong fascination with exotic scenes. As a student he was attracted to the Orientalist paintings of Prosper Marilhat and Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, and he discussed the work of these two artists, as well as Eugéne Delacroix, in one of his early writings; a review of the Salon of 1845. Fromentin was particularly interested in the people, culture and landscapes of North Africa. He made his first visit to Algeria in 1846, returning home after six weeks in the country with numerous drawings and sketches. Later trips to Algeria in 1847 and 1852 resulted in the publication of an account of his travels, entitled Un eté dans le Sahara and published in 1857. Fromentin exhibited regularly at the Salon, and among the masterpieces of his maturity is a painting of A Hunt with a Falcon in Algeria, bought by the State at the Salon of 1863 and now in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.