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Eugène Carrière

 

Eugène Carrière (1849–1906) is known for his monochromatic colour schemes. In his day, his ascetic works in various shades of brown were much criticised. Carrière did not aim so much to depict a given landscape subject as to capture the essence of a natural scene, as well as the constant transformations going on in it.

Carrière was born as one of nine children in the family of an insurance salesman. After an apprenticeship in colour lithography at the École Municipale de Dessin in Strasbourg, Carrière moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. He worked in the studio of the poster artist Jules Chéretin 1872–3 and at the Sèvres porcelain factory from 1880 to 1885, where he befriended Auguste Rodin.

He married Sophie Desmouceaux in 1876, with whom he had seven children. In 1877 he visited London, where he was influenced by J.M.W. Turner and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Back in Paris he started to exhibit at the Salon, where his works depicting motherhood earned him the title ‘Peintre des Maternités’.

Around 1890 he adopted the browny-grey colour scheme so characteristic of his work, with contrasts of light and shadow and subjects veiled in an atmospheric mist. He became a leading French Symbolist, influencing younger artists such as Henri Matisse and André Derain, who were his pupils at the Académie Carrière.