Today, there are very few archives that allow us to delve into the life of the very discreet and modest painter Ferdinand Deconchy who was close friends with both Renoir and Monet. Deconchy was the son of an architect, he studied architecture at the École nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris. A studious and diligent student, it was here that he acquired a solid classical education. It was during these studies that he was able to observe the cast of the ancient sculpture entitled Jason Cincinnatus which is now appearing on your screen. Note how the young Ferdinand Deconchy was concerned with proportions, shadows and the rendering of musculature in the charcoal study on display in this room.
It was also in Paris that he came into contact with the Impressionists and became friends with Monet. In the company of the painter Louis Valtat, Deconchy discovered Cagnes in 1884 and stayed at the Savournin Hotel. There, he fell in love with Thérèse, the owners' daughter. It was his relationship with Thérèse which led Ferdinand Deconchy to become an adopted citizen of Cagnes.
The genuine affection that bound Ferdinand Deconchy and the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir is attested to by the letters exchanged between the two men. In these letters, Deconchy assures his friend that he would find unrivalled inspiration in Cagnes. "It's beautiful, still untouched by billboards and tourism, and you can breathe the best air on the coast! My parents are hoteliers; they’ll gladly welcome you whilst you look for a house”. After having discovered Magagnosc, Le Cannet, and Châteauneuf de Grasse, Renoir was also convinced of the beauty of the landscapes surrounding Cagnes.
Ferdinand Deconchy, despite his obvious talent, did not embrace a career as a professional painter. Highly cultured and witty, and surrounded by a circle of intellectuals and artists, Ferdinand Deconchy was elected mayor of Cagnes in 1912. Although his commitment to the town could not be disputed, he became disillusioned with political life and chose not to run for a second term. In 1925 he moved to Saint Jean Cap Ferrat and died on the 13th of January, 1946, in Nyons.