Johan-Barthold Jongkind Photographié par Dallemagne en 1965 Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris
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Jongkind spent his childhood in a Dutch little town, near Rotterdam. His walks along the canals developed his dream that he would one day be a painter.
His meeting in 1845 with the French painter Eugène Isabey oriented his destiny: he would go to France. One year later, thanks to an allowance granted by the Dutch government, he traveled to Paris and entered the studio of Isabey with whom he discovered Normandy. Then Jongkind gradually freed himself from his Master’s style. His manner announced Impressionnism; suggested forms and the use of light effects were unusual at the time and banished him from official Salons, thus making him join the group of the “Refusés”. Besides, he was close to Monet and Boudin who believed that Jongkind had opened wide the portal through which he and all the Impressionists had entered.
Jongkind’s life was chaotic and dissolute. Always short of money, psychologically unsteady, he found a relative stability thanks to his companion Joséphine Fesser whom he met in 1860 when he returned to France. With her, he frequently traveled to the Nivernais and the Dauphiné, where he settled in 1878 and died in 1891.
In 1882, Edmond de Goncourt was one of the many connoisseurs that praised the artist who today is considered the “precurseur of Impressionism”: “What strikes me at the Salon” he wrote, “is the influence of Jongkind. It seems obvious that every landscape of quality nowadays descends from this painter, adopting his skies, his atmospheres, his soils.”