5 East 57th Street, 8th floor, New York, NY 10022
T: 212 355 5710 F: 212 355 5742
Jean Charles Cazin (1841 - 1901)
Jean Charles Cazin
(1841 - 1901)
Returning Home
Oil on canvas
32 1/4 x 25 3/4 inches
Framed dimensions:
41 x 34 1/2 inches
M. Knoedler & Co., Paris / New York
Thomas Barlow Walker, Minneapolis, Minnesota, c.1890
Gimbels, New York, 1946 (possibly purchased by Howard Hughes)
Robert Mochrie, late 1940s
By descent to Mary Mochrie
By descent, private collection, New Jersey, c.1980s
Rehs Galleries, Inc., New York City
Private collection, New York
Catalogue of the Art Collection of T.B. Walker, 1907, No. 22, page 28, titled A Pastoral Scene in Brittany. Description reads: "Another characteristic home life scene among the peasant farmers of Brittany. The farmer, with his pick across his shoulder, calling to his wife who is sitting on the grass with a child in her arms, that it is time to return to their little home that is beyond the church with its tiled roof and belfry. The soft foliage of the grass, the shrubbery and the trees, and the tinted, soft brown gray sky, all together making up one of the finest, softest and most important of all the paintings that Cazin has ever produced."

The Walker Art Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Alphabetical List of Artists with Biographical Sketches, Ruben H. Adams, Curator, 1927, No. 47, page 34, titled: Pastoral Farm Scene in Brittany, illustrated with detail photograph. Description reads: "A certain delicate tint among the shapely trees, a feathery and bewitching handling of the shrubbery, and the peculiar velvety softness of the grass, combined with the sweet rural simplicity, make up a wonderfully pleasing picture, and one whose pastoral beauty has seldom been surpassed."

Janet Whitmore, in her e-mail to our gallery, added the following:

Walker often did business with Knoedler in the 1880s and 90s and into the early 20th century. They had a falling out over a Gerome/Vibert painting exchange [the Gerome seems to be still missing] in 1901 and did not do business again until after WWI. In 1912 Virginie Demont-Breton inadvertently helped to create a thaw by sending a letter to Walker via Knoedlers in NYC. Throughout this period, Walker was buying Cazin paintings; ultimately he owned 16 of them and had a special gallery in his gallery just for Cazin.

I have copies of Knoedlers correspondence with Walker, but do not have a definite listing of this painting by title. My best guess is that this is one of the Cazin paintings that Walker purchased in the early 1890s. There is correspondence with Michel Knoedler from March 10, 1891 referring to "no news yet from Cazin; as soon as we receive anything from him, will let you know and if possible send you photographs". Then on October 7, 1891, another letter from Roland Knoedler saying "Cazin delivered two medium canvasses to us the day after I left Paris; we expect them next week." [presumably in the NY office]. On June 3, 1892, another letter from Roland Knoedler to Walker references that "Cazin is getting to be more and more difficult to obtain--everybody is after him--he is very popular--his exhibition at the new Salon is interesting though not very grand."

Walker stopped buying for a few years around 1893 when the US economy went into a recession, so my best guess is that your Cazin may have been purchased in the early 1890s.

After Walker's death in 1928, the collection languished because of the Depression and because of some poor decision-making on the part of his heirs. In 1939, the Federal Arts Project [WPA program] was granted temporary control of the Gallery by the Walker family. Daniel Defenbacher became Director of the Gallery. In 1943, the WPA returned control to the Walker family, but Defenbacher continued as director. He and Hudson Walker [TB's grandson] decided to change the focus of the Gallery to "modern art", and in 1946, sold 144 of Walker's painting at Gimbels in NY. The Cazin painting was one of five Cazin's that were sold there.

We greatly appreciate Janet Whitmore's help in cataloging this work.

One of the more intriguing and influential artists of the Realist movement was Jean Charles Cazin.  Although mainly thought of as a landscape artist, many of his early works focused on genre studies and/or interior scenes.  Born in Samer in 1841 to Francois Joseph Cazin (a doctor) it was initially thought that Jean would also become a doctor, however as a young boy he displayed a talent for drawing and his parents helped nurture his gift.

The family moved from Samer to Boulogne-sur-mer in 1846 so that their children could continue their education and it was here that Jean first me the Coquelin brothers.  Jean finished his education in England and by 1863 was living in Paris.  During this year he exhibited Souvenir des dunes de Wissant at the Salon des Refuses and enrolled in the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin, studying under Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran.

The 1860’s were an important period in Cazin’s development.  It was at this time that he met Bonvin, Fantin-Latour, Legros, Ribot and L’hermitte and was recommended by Lecoq de Boisbaudran for a teaching position at the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris.  He moved from Paris to Chailly, near Barbizon, and produced a series of landscapes that were accepted at the Salons of 1865 & 1866.  Throughout this time he continued to receive the support of his professor and was nominated for the post of Director of the Ecole de Dessin and curator of the museum in Tours (the school at Tours trained many local artisans for the surrounding industries).  Cazin reorganized the school according to his training with Lecoq de Boisbaudran and became interested in the industrial arts.  In 1868 he married Marie Guillet, a student of Rosa Bonheur, who not only became a serious artist but also a ceramist.

Cazin’s position as the curator of the local museum allowed him the opportunity to travel and study the collections from other villages and countries.  By 1871 the ravages of the Franco-Prussian War and disagreements with members of the museums concerning his programs had forced him to move to England.  It was here that his interest in ceramics flourished and he soon made arrangements with the Fulham Pottery to have artisans work for him so that he would have works to decorate.

In 1875 Cazin returned to France, settling in the area around Boulonge, and began to paint again.  In 1876 he submitted his first major work to the Salon, entitled The Boatyard, and continued to exhibit there through 1883, receiving a first class medal in 1880 and was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 1882.

The late 1880’s saw a change in the French art community with the older artists cemented in the academic traditions and the younger artist following a freer expression of their talents.  This divergence of ideas and styles led to the creation of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890 and Cazin was a founding member and would later become it’s Vice-president.  In 1893 Cazin traveled to America and exhibit nearly 180 paintings at the American Art Galleries.  The exhibit was in instant success and was reviewed in many publications.  This exhibit not only displayed works from the artist’s collection, but many that were already in important American collections.  Demand for the artist’s work soared and his works soon found there way into even more American collections, including those being formed by Frick, Lockhart and Byers. Cazin remained at the forefront of French landscape painting until his death in 1901.

Cazin was represent by no less than 15 works at the Decennial Exhibition of 1900.  In a publication by Goupil & Co., which reviewed the exhibition, a long article was written about the artist, it begins as follows:

With M. Jean Charles Cazin we come to one of the most incontestable glories of contemporaneous French painting.  I shall not be contradicted when I say that his landsca pes constitute the principa l attraction of our Decennial Exhibition…. In the same manner, M. Jean Charles Cazin stands out among all contemporaneous French landscape-painters with all the grandeur of his genius.

Selected works in public collections
Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee, WI.
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, PA.
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Arras
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours
Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Musée J. Charles Cazin, Samer
Musée National du Chateau de Versailles
The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.
The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA.
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.

Additional reading

Weisberg, Gabriel P., Jean-Charles Cazin’s reception in America, Apollo: The International Magazine of the Arts, February 1999, pgs. 35-40.
Weisberg, Gabriel P., Collecting in the Gilded Age: art patronage in Pittsburgh, 1890-1910, Frick Art & Historical Center, 1997.
Weisberg, Gabriel P., Redefining Genre: French and American Painting, 1850-1900, The Trust for Museum Exhibitions, 1995, pgs.78-88.

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