Charles Cottet (1863 – 1925), French painter, was born at Le Puy-en-Velay and died in Paris. A famed post-impressionist, Cottet is known for his dark, evocative painting of rural Brittany and seascapes. He led a school of painters known as the Bande noire or Nubians group, and was friends with such artists as Auguste Rodin.
Having lived his childhood and adolescence in Auvergne and Savoy, he studied painting in Émile Maillard’s studio (1846-1926) , then at the Académie Julian in Paris.
Cottet studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, and under Puvis de Chavannes and Roll, while also attending the Académie Julian (where fellow students formed Les Nabis school of painting, with which he was later associated). He travelled and painted in Egypt, Italy, and on Lake Geneva, but he made his name with his sombre and gloomy, firmly designed, severe and impressive scenes of life on the Brittany coast.
In 1886, he traveled to Brittany for the first time, then returned several years in succession to paint, several times on the island of Ouessant. Charles Cottet, under the general title of Au pays de la mer, has produced a series of works depicting picturesque scenes of the rugged life of seamen, where the multiple aspects of the Atlantic and the English Channel Intensively rendered.
Having obtained a traveling scholarship in 1894, which enabled him to visit Italy and Egypt, he returned with a strong supply of impressions from the East, differing completely from the shimmering visions then in use. Having seen the countries of sunshine according to his temperament, Cottet’s observation was devoted mainly to the abrupt rocks of Aswan, to the study of the fellahs.
Cottet exhibited at the Salon of 1889, but on a trip to Brittany in 1886 he had found his true calling. For the next twenty years he painted scenes of rural and harbor life, portraying a culture Parisians still found exotic. He is especially noted for his dark seascapes of Breton harbors at dawn, and evocative scenes from the lives of Breton fishermen.
In the decade of 1900, with Lucien Simon, Edmond Aman-Jean, André Dauchez, George Desvallières and Maurice Denis of a group of young painters nicknamed “the Black Band” by the critics of art because they reject the paintings Of the Impressionists. Most of these artists teach at the Académie de la Palette in Paris.
He was close friends with Charles Maurin, and his group included the painter Félix-Émile-Jean Vallotton. Cottet has often been associated with the picturesque seaside symbolism of the Pont-Aven School, though Vallotton famously painted Cottet as a leader of Les Nabis, beside Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard, and Ker-Xavier Roussel, in his Five Painters (1902-3; Kunstmuseum Winterthur). Cottet was more explicitly the leader of his own small movement, the Bande noire of the 1890s, which included Lucien Simon and André Dauchez, all influenced by the realism and dark colours of Courbet.
A friend of Raymond Tournon, he advised him to make a big exhibition, when the artist died of the Spanish flu in 1919.
Cottet’s paintings can be found in museums in France, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. and at the Hermitage.
Brussels, Charlier museum: An Ouessantine.
Ghent, Ghent Museum of Fine Arts: Mourning at Ouessant, oil on cardboard, 74 × 90 cm).
In the USA
Cincinnati, Cincinnati Museum of Art: Marine Mourning. Three Ouessantines.
Le Havre, museum of modern art André-Malraux:
Small village at the foot of the cliff, about 1905;
Mountain, circa 1900-1910.
Loctudy, manor of Kerazan: The Fires of the Saint-Jean.
Nantes, Museum of Fine Arts: Girl on the Island of Sein, 1909.
Orsay Museum :
Those that remain;
Those who go away;
The Farewell Meal;
In the land of the sea. Pain also says The victims of the sea. Pain, between 1908 and 1909, oil on canvas.
Petit Palais: People of Ushant weeping a dead child, oil on canvas, 91 × 125 cm.
Quimper, Museum of Fine Arts:
The Dead Child, 1897, 65 × 54.5 cm;
Lamentation of the women of Camaret around the burnt chapel of Rocamadour;
Breton marine, 54 × 75 cm;
Fishermen fleeing the storm, 1903, 54 × 75 cm;
The Cabaret, 1893, 71 × 55 cm;
Four Breton women, between 1900 and 1910, 38.4 × 54.2 cm;
The Three Women, 33.5 × 43 cm;
The Procession of the Corpus Christi at Landudec, manor of Kerazan, Loctudy;
The Burned Church, 1911.
Vannes, museum of the Cohue: Belle-Île.
Moscow, Pushkin Museum: The Farewells, 1897, 64 × 54 cm.
Le Puy-en-Velay, Crozatier museum: In the land of the sea, 1898, oil on cardboard, 48 × 144 cm.