Though he also painted landscapes, interiors and figures, 19th Century French painter Antoine Vollon was best know for his lushly painted still lifes.
Vollon was greatly influenced by the superb still life painter Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, and followed in his love of simple food and kitchen related genre subjects.
At his most expressive, Vollon’s thick, fluid impasto paint strokes gave visceral presence to the term “buttery”, that painters use to describe paint that flows off the brush in consistency that is workably fluid but thick enough to be manipulated as brushstrokes. This is seen in the remarkable brushwork of his aptly chosen subject of Mound of Butter (above, top with detail crop).
This painting, which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, is the subject of a short essay by contemporary painter Duane Keiser in his blog, On Painting.
Vollon’s landscapes have some of the feeling of the works of his contemporaries Charles Daubigny and Eugéne Boudin that presaged Impressionism.
The story goes that Vollon’s aspirations as a figurative artist were quashed by Manet’s comments on his otherwise well received painting of a woman carrying a basket, Femme du Pollet á Dieppe, of which he said: “Bah! What is Vollon’s Femme? A basket that walks!”
If that resulted in Vollon’s concentration on still life, then we are the happy recipients of the results, which can be striking, particularly when viewed in detail. Many of the pieces listed on the Christie’s and Sotheby’s past auction results (listed below) are zoomable, but the best image I’ve found is the Met’s high res image of Vollon’s Still Life with Cheese (above, third and fourth down).
Still Life with Cheese, Met Museum
Christie's past lots (zoomable)
Sotheby's sold lots (zoomable)
Museum collections de Haute Normandie
National Gallery of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Artcyclopedia (museum links and resources)
Bio on Wikipedia
5 Replies to “Antoine Vollon”
The only time I’ve actually wanted to bite into butter.
What luscious brush strokes! The type of painting I can look at for a long time.
Buttery and luscious are perfect descriptions for his work. Thanks for introducing me to another fantastic painter that I knew nothing about.
Housekeeping: There is an unclosed italics tag in this post which is making the whole page slanty.
The painting is gorgeous. I gained weight just looking at that first one.
Thanks, Andrew. Turned out to be in the post above this one.
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