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The French Impressionism Painter Henri Moret & his Beautiful Paintings

Henri Moret was born in Cherbourg, Normandy on the 12th December 1856. Although he and his family grew up in the Normandy region, it was the Brittany coast and countryside that Moret preferred to capture in his colorful paintings.

Very little is known of Moret’s life before he began his military service in 1875. While in the army, his commander noticed Moret’s artistic talents. This commander introduced Moret to Ernest Corroller, a marine painter and drawing teacher. Corroller introduced Moret to landscape painting and to the technique of plein air painting.

En plein-air was a revolutionary way of painting. This technique required that the artist set up his easel outdoors and capture the light and colors as he viewed them. Most artists up until this period painted landscapes from memory inside their painting studios.

Church in Pont Aven - Henri Moret Painting
Church in Pont Aven – Henri Moret Painting

Moret Moves to Paris to Further his Art Studies

Moret moved to Paris to futher his studies. Both the Academie Julian and the Ecole National des Beaux-Arts accepted him and he spent time in both schools studying traditional art. During his studies, he even succeeded in exhibiting a painting at the Paris Salon in 1880 when he was only 24 years old.

However while in Paris, Moret noticed the vibrant paintings of the revolutionary impressionism painters. This new style of painting, and in particular, the colorful artworks of Claude Monet, had a huge influence on him. Henri Moret loved what he saw and quickly turned away from traditional art. Moret was keen to try out these new impressionism techniques!

Landscape Plein-Air Painting

In the 1860s landscape painting became popular with both the art collectors and critics alike.  Oil paints were now sold in tubes allowing the artists to venture out into the countryside and paint plein-air with ease. 

The Impressionists adopted plein-air painting in order to capture the changing light and the effects it had on nature. They also used a far more vibrant palette of colors. This was the style that Henri Moret embraced. He began experimenting with the bright colors and loose brush-strokes of the Impressionists. In fact, Moret adopted the Impressionism style for the rest of his painting career.

Moret Studies Under Paul Gauguin in the Pont Aven Artist Colony

Moret moves to Brittany in 1881, staying at Le Pouldu near Pont Aven. For the rest of his life, Moret divided his time between Brittany and Paris.

Brittany Coast - Henri Moret paintings
Brittany Landscape by Henri Moret Paintings

In 1888, Moret moved to the artist colony of Pont Aven in Brittany. Here he met Paul Gauguin and the circle of painters who gathered around Gauguin. It was during this period, that Moret immersed himself into Gauguin’s philosophy of Syntheticism.

Synthetism was a post-impressionism art form based on the idea of abandonment of realistic representation and painting to reflect emotions. Other features of synthetism included the use of bold colors and the absence of perspective and shading.

Moret was so influenced by Gauguin’s style during this period that many of his landscapes closely resembled those of Gauguin.

Brittany Landscapes Captured by Henri Moret

Pont Aven, Brittany - Henri Moret paintings
Pont Aven, Brittany – Henri Moret painting

Moret and His Lover Affair with Brittany, France

Later on however, Henri Moret returned to painting in the Impressionism style. He painted his beautiful landscapes and seascapes with colorful hues of blues, greens, yellows and pinks.

Moret spent most of artistic career painting the coastal villages and islands along the south coast of Brittany. He painted Douelan, Clohar and the Brittany Islands of Belle Ile and Ouessant. He immortalized onto his canvases the local fisherman, farmers, the Brittany countryside and rugged, rocky coastline.

Belle-île-en-Mer, Cliffs Brittany - Henri Moret Paintings
Belle-île-en-Mer, Cliffs Brittany – Henri Moret Painting
Sardine Fisherman on the Coast of Brittany -y Henri Moret paintings
Sardine Fisherman on the Coast of Brittany by Henri Moret

He moved from from village to village but would often return to the Pont Aven artist colony in order to spend time and share ideas with other artists.

The Prominant Parisian Art Collector Paul Durand-Ruel Notices the Beautiful Landscapes of Henri Moret

In 1893 Moret met Célina Chatenet, a dressmaker, who became his wife in 1910. He was still a struggling artist and could barely make a living. Celina supported him financially. However, in 1895 his luck changed. Durand-Ruel, a well known Parisian art dealer saw Moret’s paintings and liked them. Through Durand-Ruel, Moret’s paintings gained public exposure and became sought after by art collectors throughout Europe, the United States and Great Britain.

The Bay of Trouville - Henri Moret painting
The Bay of Trouville by Henri Moret painting

Moret’s died in 1913 is Paris and was buried in the Pere Lachaise cemetery. Durand-Ruel held a few posthumous exhibitions of Henri Moret’s paintings. In one exhibition, one catalogue described Moret’s ability as follows:

“to express the Breton landscape exactly… he occupies a unique place in the evolution of art at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, as he has been able to fuse together two fundamentally opposing styles: the Synthetism of Pont Aven and Impressionism”

Spring in Pont Aven - Henri Moret Landscape
Pont Aven in the Spring – Henri Moret Painting

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Art Museums in France Exhibiting Henri Moret’s Paintings

In France the below art museums showcase Henri Moret’s paintings.

There were other talented French impressionism painters, such as Mary Cassatt, Albert Lebourg & Gustave Caillebotte to name a few. All of them are far less familiar names, compared to the impressionism giants Renoir, Monet & Degas. Read about them and view their beautiful paintings.