Collioure beach

Adolphe Appian – master of monochrome landscape

Collioure beach
Collioure beach

Adolphe Appian (born 28 August 1818 – died 29 April 1898) is an outstanding French landscape painter and engraver of the 19th century. The work of Adolphe Appian is inextricably linked with the Barbizon school of painting. His atmospheric paintings, painted with coal, convey all the charm of remote, untouched by man corners of France.

The artist’s creative biography can be divided into two periods: after the enthusiasm for the monochrome color palette, the time has come for expressive, rich shades. Adolph Appian masterly mastered the technique of working in the open air. Nature for him is a separate plot, lively, dramatic, incomprehensible and invariably beautiful.

Evening landscape
Evening landscape

Biography of Adolphe Appian

Adolphe Appian was born on August 28, 1818 in Lyon – a wonderful town in the Rhône lowlands, teeming with vineyards and gardens. At the age of 15, he changed his birth name and changed from Jacques-Bartemely to Adolphe. In 1833-1836. the young man attended the School of Fine Arts, where he studied silk painting for the local industry. The aspiring artist was mentored by Jean-Michel Grobon and Augustin-Alexandre Tierra. After graduation, the young man worked as a graphic designer, he had his own studio.

In 1835, Adolf came to the capital of France. He wanted to take part in the Paris Salon, but his works could not stand the tough competitive selection. Appian’s works won the Salon for the first time only in 1853. And for almost half a century, that is, for the rest of his life, the artist will exhibit there every year.

In many ways, the recognition of his talent was facilitated by his acquaintance with Camille Corot and Charles-François Daubigny, who had a strong influence on the painter’s style. With the advice of these experienced craftsmen, Adolph Appian honed his charcoal drawing technique to perfection.

Adolphe Appian. Fisherman in a Rowboat, at the Edge of a River
Fisherman in a Rowboat, at the Edge of a River


His prints are notable for their liveliness, they are surprisingly harmonious and magically attractive. The viewer feels the mood soaring in the air, a premonition of the impending rain, the atmosphere of sunsets and sunrises. Stones, trees, mirror shine of the water surface, reflections in the river – everything looks very naturalistic. Thanks to skillful light and shade modeling, monochrome landscapes so accurately reflect the state of nature that it seems that the color will only interfere! After all, the black lines are amazingly expressive.

Landscape with fruit trees
Landscape with fruit trees

For a long time, engraving was the master’s favorite art form. His drawings were regularly published in popular magazines and adorned the annual album of the Aquafortist Society. Two of Appian’s paintings exhibited in the French capital were bought in 1866 by Napoleon III and Princess Matilda. This strengthened the status of the artist in the art world. In 1868, Adolf received the Salon gold medal. He has repeatedly participated in World Exhibitions – in Paris, London, Munich.

Adolph Appian managed to show himself as a wonderful colorist. In the 1870s, the color palette became more and more vivid, colors – rich and saturated. Some researchers attribute this to his passion for Japanese landscape prints. The artist died on April 29, 1898 in Lyon, at the age of 79. For his invaluable contribution to painting, Adolph Appian was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor.

Road in the vicinity of Genoa
Road in the vicinity of Genoa

The most famous paintings by Adolphe Appian

The works of Adolphe Appian, like the works of other Barbizonians, have something in common with the paintings of the early Impressionists. The master was interested in different types of landscape: he depicted rivers, fields, forests, seas and mountains along with picturesque city embankments, clad in stone. The artist carefully observed the changing states of nature and sensitively caught the subtlest light nuances.

Adolphe Appian. Sunset on the river
Sunset on the river

His landscapes completely immerse the viewer in the atmosphere of a cloudy autumn day or summer dawn coolness. Among the best paintings by Adolphe Appian:

“Winter Landscape with a Gatherer of Shrubs” (1854) – the dim sun painted the earth with a bizarre pattern of shadows. Simple farmers and their modest house are organically inscribed in the natural surroundings, and the castle towering in the distance looks like a “stranger”.

“Well on the side of the road” (1860s) – “the language of color” is impeccably accurate: the talent of the colorist and the author’s ability to create a work of amazing mood were revealed here in full force.

“Fisherman on a pond by the river En” (1868-1870) – the structure of stone and wood, the brilliance of the water surface, the depth of the shadows are conveyed truly masterly.

Albarin Spring (1870) – calm, majestic landscape. In transparent water, as in a mirror, the shore and clouds floating across the sky are reflected. The painting is kept in New York, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Port of San Remo (1878) is one of the author’s most interesting prints, giving a clear idea of ​​the strength of his talent.

Today Adolf Appian’s paintings can be seen in famous museums around the world. His work has had a huge impact on the American artist Stephen Parrish (Stephen Parrish).

Adolphe Appian. Well at the Side of a Road, 1860s.
Well at the Side of a Road, 1860s.
Adolphe Appian. Winter landscape with brushwood collector
Winter landscape with brushwood collector