1863 - 1925
Charles Cottet’s father was originally from the Savoy region and was a justice of the peace. Cottet went to Paris to study literature and law. He abandoned both to pursue artistic studies, and studied in several private studios. He was taught by Puvis de Chavannes and Roll, but his independent thinking incited him to work mostly in direct contact with nature. He first stayed in Brittany in 1885. He made a number of trips: to Algeria (1892); to Egypt with a travel grant from the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (1894); to Iceland with his protector and friend Léonce Bénédite (1907); and to Spain (1908). His travels had a formative influence on his work. Around 1910-1911 he suffered an incapacitating illness. He remained paralysed for about 15 years. He became an Officier of the Légion d’Honneur.
Cottet was deeply marked by the harsh, dramatic life of the maritime population. He depicted scenes of funerals and mortuary wakes, but also landscapes, as well as the costumes and traditions of the region. His erudite technique and his qualities as a colourist rendered him a painter of premier calibre. Few artists have been able to represent so intensely the splendour of the sun-filled landscapes or the poignant melancholy of the skies of Brittany. He had already been established for some time in Brittany, when he found the pictorial form that would confirm his reputation. Port of Camaret was the first manifestation of this new form. He illustrated The Book of the Emerald by A. Suarès, and The Social Misery of Women. His taste for leaden tones and sombre harmonies led him to be considered as the leader of a group known as La Bande Noire with Xavier Prinet and André Dauchez. Reacting against Impressionism, they willingly cited Courbet and favoured painting with moral content. Cottet produced mostly landscapes of Brittany, full of dramatic sentiment and painted in thick paste. His main works include: Evening Beams; Port of Camaret at the Ancien Musée du Luxembourg (1893); For the Pardon acquired by the State (1894); and Burial in Brittany at the Musée de Lille (1895). He also executed a series of scenes and maritime landscapes of Brittany under the title In the Land of the Sea, and a large triptych summing up the series, which was exhibited at the Salon in 1898. His engraved work comprises 71 indexed prints.
He participated in the Expressionist exhibitions that Leparc de Boutville organised in his shop in Rue Le Peletier. He exhibited for the first time at the Salon in 1889. He also participated in the foundation of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and, in 1900, in the Société Nouvelle. Beyond these exhibitions, he took part most notably in the Exposition Universelle in Paris, where he received a gold medal (1900); the Salon de la Gravure Originale en Couleurs (Exhibition of Original Engravings in Colour) in Paris (1905); and the Salon de la Société des Peintres Graveurs Français in Paris (1906-1914). Most recent collective exhibitions include Visionaries and Intimists in the 1900 Era (Visionnaires et Intimistes à l’Époque 1900) at the Grand Palais in Paris (1973) and The Golden Age of Painting in Brittany (L’Âge d’Or de la Peinture en Bretagne) at the Musée de La Cohue in Vannes (2001). Solo exhibitions include a first solo exhibit of prints at the Galerie de l’Art Décoratif in Paris (1906); a retrospective at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris (1911); an exhibition at the Musée de Quimper (1984); an exhibition at the Galerie Paul Vallotton in Lausanne (1986); and Charles Cottet: His Engraved Work (Charles Cottet: L’Œuvre Gravé) at the Musée de Pont-Aven (2003).
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Algiers: El Kantara Gorge
Antwerp: Breton Women in Mourning
Barcelona: Heads of Breton Women
Bordeaux: Fisherman in Douarnenez; Return from Fishing
Brussels: Woman and Child
Bucharest: Dead Child
Cincinnati (AM): Breton Women in Mourning (painting)
Dublin: Breton Coasts
Ghent: Bad News; Portrait of a Young Girl
Helsinki: Breton Port
Karlsruhe: Breton Mourning
Lille: Burial in Brittany (1895)
Loctudy (Manoir de Kerazan)
Munich: Bridge in Rays of Light
Padua: In the Land of the Sea (triptych)
Paris (Bibliothèque d’Art et d’Archéologie, Fondation Jacques-Doucet)
Paris (former Mus. du Luxembourg): Port of Camaret (1893)
Paris (MAM): In the Land of the Sea (triptych); Evening Rays; Camaret; Still-life; Night in Cairo; Mist; Sadness
Paris (Mus. du Petit Palais): Whispered Conversation
Philadelphia: Moonlit Night
Rome: Fires on St John the Baptist Day
Trieste: Fishermen Fleeing the Storm
Vienna (Mus. Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig): Towards the Church; Woman and Child
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