1814 - 1895
Auguste Ravier studied law in Paris from 1833 to 1839. He began painting at Montmartre and in the forest of Fontainebleau before going on to study painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Théodore Caruelle d’Aligny and Jules Coignet. During the summer of 1835 he went to Royat in the Auvergne where he met Corot, who gave him advice and became an important influence on him. He went to Italy, no doubt at Corot’s instigation, remaining there from 1840 to 1845. On his return to France he withdrew to isolated country areas – to Crémieu in 1852 and to Morestel in 1868, where he lived until his death.
Once he had settled in Morestel, Ravier began painting the countryside of the area – the streams, ponds and undulating plains cut off in the distance by the first mountains of Savoy; his style ranged from the Neo-Classicism of his early career to that of the Romantic landscape artist and his work is striking for the total absence of the human figure. Ravier enjoyed working with the effect of light at dusk, the interplay of light and shade, the slow variations of the atmosphere at nightfall and the cold tones of clouds in contrast with the warm tones of the setting sun reflected in ponds, which he painted in strong colours. He found watercolour an ideal medium for capturing passing moments, trailing red, orange and green across his skies to contrast with the greyness of the rainy landscape, which he confined to the bottom of the canvas. In The Morestel Wash House he inverts the traditional relationship between form and substance: the sky stands out in energetic touches against the dark mass of the trees. The sky, the source of light, thus becomes the principal element of his work. In the artist’s own words, ‘it is all in the sky; the clouds and the atmosphere intoxicate me – it is inexhaustible, infinite’.
Ravier’s work was not widely exhibited during his lifetime; he exhibited once in Geneva, once in Grenoble and once in Lyons; he took part in only one Salon, in his native city of Lyons, in 1889. A number of his canvases were shown at Rheims museum in 1964 and at the exhibition The School of Nature in the Dauphiné in the 19th Century ( L’École de la Nature en Dauphiné au XIXe Siècle), organised by the Musée Dauphinois at Grenoble in 1982. In 1996, the Lyons Musée des Beaux-Arts organised an exhibition of 140 paintings and watercolours by Ravier to coincide with the Corot exhibition in Paris.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Grenoble: several canvases
Paris (Louvre): The Tiber at Ostia; The Lévaz Pond at Morestel; Clouds; Poplars; Pond with a Stand of Trees; Thuile Rocks; View of Crémieu; Garden of a Roman Villa
St-Étienne (Mus. d’Art et d’Industrie)