1878 - 1942
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The son of a joiner, Narcisse Guilbert overcame considerable personal difficulties to enrol, aged 17, at the École des Beaux-Arts in Rouen, as a pupil of Zacharie. He won the Rouen academy’s Prix Pellecat in 1910, and the resulting bursary enabled him to travel and discover the landscapes of the Breton coast. In 1907, he was a founder-exhibitor with the Société des Artistes Rouennais; he held his first solo show in Rouen in 1908. He exhibited in Paris only once during his lifetime, in 1920. A retrospective of his work was organised by André Watteau in 1969. Guilbert’s work has featured in two themed exhibitions on Impressionism: The Rouen School: Seven Impressionist Painters, at the Château d’Hauterives, 1992; and Around Impressionism: Nineteen Painters from the School of Normandy ( Autour de l’Impressionnisme: dix-neuf peintres de l’École Normande), at the Maison des Arts in Antony, in 2003.
Guilbert was a member of a group of Rouen painters, led by Albert Lebourg and Pierre Dumont, who were strongly influenced by the work of the Impressionists. The group’s founder, Delattre, established an Académie Libre where Guilbert and his friends studied and worked. Guilbert painted the coastal landscapes around Fécamp and Varengeville. In 1930, his most prolific year, he painted a large number of landscapes around Etretat. His painting of the Seine at Croisset is notable for its predominantly blue tonalities and dusky atmosphere. Broad brush-strokes in the foreground contrast with the more classical treatment of the clouds, amplifying the movement of light across the surface of the water. Guilbert’s paintings often play on contrasts of handling in this way, giving his waterscapes a sense of drama. He was a noted painter in the Seine-Maritime region, where a number of streets have been named after him (in Le Mesnil-Esnard, Pavilly, Pissy-Poville).
Dubosc, Georges: L’École de Rouen, ses peintres et ses ferronniers, Lecerf fils, Rouen, 1914.
Narcisse Guilbert, 1878-1942, exhibition catalogue, Gal. André Watteau, Paris, 1969.
L’École de Rouen, BDS, Rouen, 1972.
École normande, École de Rouen 1870-1930, exhibition catalogue, Centre culturel du Palais Bénédictine, Fécamp, 1989.
Lespinasse, François: L’École de Rouen, Lecerf, Rouen, 1995.
L’École de Rouen, de l’impressionnisme à Marcel Duchamp 1878-1914, exhibition catalogue, musée des Beaux-Arts, Rouen, 1996.
Autour de l’Impressionnisme: dix-neuf peintres de l’école normande, exhibition catalogue, La Maison des Arts, Antony, 2003.