Marseille 1756 - Aix-en-Provence 1844


The painter, draughtsman and engraver Jean-Antoine Constantin spent almost his entire career in Provence and the south of France. After training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in his native Marseille, where he also worked as a decorative painter for a porcelain manufactory, he completed his studies in Rome under Joseph-Marie Vien at the Académie de France. Constantin spent several years in Italy, and, as he recalled many years later, in a letter to his student François-Marius Granet, ‘I was so content when I lived in that country. Those were the happiest years of my life. I would like to be there still and be able to walk with you in those lovely ruins, to examine the nature which is so beautiful in its colours and which is grander than one can find elsewhere.’ Upon Constantin’s return to France he began to establish a reputation as a landscape painter. Between 1786 and 1795 he taught at the municipal drawing school in Aix-en-Provence, and later continued his teaching in Digne. He made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1817, winning a gold medal, and also exhibited there in 1822, 1827 and 1831. As a painter and draughtsman, Constantin was especially influenced by the work of such 17th century Dutch landscapists as Karel Dujardin and Salomon van Ruysdael. Among his pupils were François-Marius Granet and Comte Auguste de Forbin, who later became director of the Louvre and purchased several works by Constantin for the museum’s collection, as well as helping him gain several commissions. Constantin’s finished drawings were much in demand by local collectors, and significant examples are today in the museums of Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, as well as in both the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Louvre in Paris.