Pierre Outin (1840 – 1899)
Le Bain Des Dames
Oil on canvas
26 ¼ x 35 ½ in (67 x 90 cm)
The highly accomplished artist Pierre Outin was born on 26th July 1840 in the town of Moulins amid the beautiful surroundings of the Auvergne in central France. About six decades after his birth the famous French fashion designer Coco Chanel attended a school at Moulins and like Outin before her made the most beautiful creations. Best known for his portrayals of dramatic historical genre, fêtes galantes, Orientalist works as well as portraits, Outin had a distinctive style in which he combined light and colour with sensuality and lyric grace. Like many aspiring artists, Outin travelled to Paris where he trained under the landscape and figurative painter Charles Joseph Lecointe (1824-1886) from whom he gained a strong understanding for landscape painting as well as elements of the Orient. He was also a pupil of the classical and historical painter Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) whose academic style, historical subjects and fine drawing was to provide the strong grounding for Outin’s highly successful career; this was confirmed when he made his debut at the Paris Salon in 1868.
The present oil is an admirable work that epitomizes the strength of Outin’s oeuvre in which he portrays a group of elegant ladies in historical costume taking a dip in a river bordering a French château. No expense is spared in describing their elaborate clothes, which combined with the light hearted narrative and architectural details is a feast for the eyes.
As here, he often portrayed his figures in historical dress, generally from the eighteenth but sometimes from the seventeenth century. Such luxurious images, like his fêtes galantes that evoke the style of the great eighteenth century master Watteau, dwelt on the finer senses such as love, the arts and recreation. Like a number of mid nineteenth century Continental artists such as Jean Louis Meissonier or Joseph Frédéric Soulacroix, Outin turned his back on the grand academic historical style toward a lighter interpretation of historical genre within a theatrical setting.
In addition to historical genre, Outin painted a number of Oriental views as well as portraits including an extremely fine chalk study of Eugène Murer (1841-1906), which is now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris. It depicts a head and should study of the bohemian baker come artist and poet who was one of Van Gogh’s earliest admirers and owned his still life Fritillaries in a Copper Vase (Musée d’Orsay, Paris). Outin established his repute in Paris, which was where he was still living when on 30th May 1899 he died at rue de Douai.