Colin, Gustave



Impressionism: partaker of the first ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874

Gustave-Henri Colin


Painter of Basque landscapes and themes


Was Gustave-Henri Colin an Impressionist?:
Gustave Colin only joined the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874. Much of his time he spend in the French Basque region, which made him an outsider of parisian meeting places. His main connection was with Henri Rouart at whose house he met Degas, Levert and Tillot. Probably there also was a connection with Brandon. All this makes Colin a side-figure of the ‘impressionist’ art-movement.
In many paintings Gustave Colin used bright colours, he did so already in the 1860s when the Impressionists still used many subdued colours. But in other works his colours are also subdued, using many browns. Colin clearly depicted the effect of the light, but his shadows stay rather grey. In many paintings his brushstroke is quite loose, but he didn’t use juxtaposed brushstrokes. He painted partly en-plein-air, but he also made preparatory studies. He mostly painted every day life. So, Colin just partly used an impressionist painting style. He stayed more a pre-impressionist.

Gustave Colin joined only the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition Gustave Colin showed 5 oil paintings. Colin was invited by Monet, Pissarro and Degas (R9). Chesneau criticized the lack of analogy at the first ‘impressionist’ exposition and mentioned it a failure to include Gustave Colin and others (R22I,p107;R87,p268/9). Ernest d’Hervilly called him one of the first members of the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…‘ (R87,p256). 1874/12/17 he was present at the liquidation (R1,p336). Just two critics described one work (no.49), for the rest Colin and his works were just shortly mentioned.
See link for a thematical overview of his pictures. See link for an account.

Gustave(-Henri) Colin at the Salon and other exhibitions:
Colin made his debut at the Salon (=S) in 1857 with a portrait of a Grand-Mère, a work that is now lost (aR10;R3;iR1;iR3;iR69;R87;R88;aR17). Before that, he had exhibited in Arras (aR17). After that he exhibited almost yearly at the Salon (iR1) and also at its successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français 1880-88 (iR1;R9;R88). In 1880 Colin received a medal of Honneur at the Salon (iR4;aR4;aR17). In 1889 Colin received a silver medal (or: médaille d’argent) at the Exposition Universelle (aR17;iR5;iR4;aR4; note: not at the Salon, where he didn’t exhibit in 1889 (iR1). 1890 onwards untill his death in 1910 he exhibited almost yearly with the Société National des Beaux-Arts (=SNBA) (iR1;R228;R3;R9;iR69;R88). He was one of the founders (iR1;R87). In 1900 works of Gustave-Henri Colin were exhibited at the Exposition Universelles et Internationales (R9;iR107), in the same year he received a gold medal at the ‘Salon’ (iR4), probably this should be the Exposition Universelle. In 1906 the SNBA dedicated an exhibition to his oeuvre in a special room (iR1;R87). In  1907 Colin was appointed Chevalier in the Legion d’Honneur (iR5;aR4); according to another source he was appointed so in 1899 and in 1907 as Officier (aR17). Adhémar remarks ‘But the artist’s merit was not rewarded until later with distinctions and medals.’ (R87). In 1876 Castagnary reviewed ‘Colin is a master in the art of rendering sunlight effects’ (R88).
Colin often sold his work at auctions held in Hôtel Drouot (=HD), namely in 1879+82+84+86+88+95+97+99+1909 (R88;aR5;aR8;aR9;aR21), see also the thematical and topographical overview of the titles of his works. See link for a thematical overview of his pictures. See link for an account.


Gustave-Henri Colin at the Salon des Refusés:
In 1863 Colin was rejected at the Salon and exhibited at the Salon des Réfusés (iR69;R9;R3;iR4;iR35;R87,p235;R88I,p146;aR17), though he was not in the catalogue (iR1). His work was positively reviewed for it’s composition and it’s colouring (aR17). Colin displayed the effect of sunlight and depicted a scene from contemporary life (iR4). His colours were more bright, than in the paintings of the key Impressionists in those days. It is unclear what he painted en-plein-air and what in the studio, anyway it is known that he made preparatory studies (see pictures). Clear is that he used several elements of the impressionist painting style. Therefore it is strange, that you don’t find this work in books on Impressionism. Whereas ‘Le déjeuner sur l’herbe’ of Manet is displayed in many books on Impressionism. A work that was made in the studio. A work in which Manet used many browns and blacks and in which the colours are subdued. It depicted contemporary prostitution and that made it a scandal. It is a good example of Realism, but has nothing to do with the impressionist painting style. Books on Impressionism should be rewritten, giving less attention to Manet and more to painters like Colin.


Gustave-Henri Colin as a painter:
In 1847 Colin was a pupil of Constant Dutilleux (1807-65) in Arras (iR5;iR35;R9;aR10;aR13;R87;R88; note: some say it was Auguste Duttilleux; aR17). After 1853 Colin dedicated himself fully to painting (aR17;R87;R88). He became a pupil of Ary Scheffer (iR3;iR35;aR10;R87;R88;aR17) and of Thomas Couture (R9;iR3;iR35;aR10;R87;R88;aR17) and also of Corot (iR1). Note: in the Salon database Dutilleux is mentioned as his teacher from 1857-86, Corot from 1857-61, Couture from 1881-88 (iR1). Arsène Alexandre called Delacroix, Rousseau and Corot as his predecessors (aR9). Colin was a friend of Corot, who influenced him very much (iR4;R16). Corot also appreciated Colin (R87). In 1872 Corot joined Colin in Arras and in the Basque region (R88). Colin also was befriended with Delacroix and with Henri Rouart and his brother (R87). Rouart also did collect his works (R3;aR17); in the posthumous auction sale of 1912 there were 3 paintings by Colin (R45). On Fridays (when he was in Paris) Colin dined with the Rouarts, just like Degas, Levert and Tillot (R88I,p790;R92,p12). Rouart also visited Colin in Ciboure (R92,p110) and both they painted in Gèdres.
In 1862 when Colin settled in Saint-Jean-de-Luz Colin met Whistler (aR10). Wikipedia writes they also did correspond (iR3), but there is not a reference to lettres of them in Whistler his correspondence (aR10). Whistler called Colin a friend of Emile Vernier and refered that Fatin-Latour owned a painting of Colin (aR10). In 1873 Colin shared the same address as Brandon (iR1).
Colin teached at the Académie Julian in Paris (iR5;aR4;aR12;aR17). (Note: This remark is related to his exhibiting at the Salon des Refuses in 1863, what seems to be a bit remarkable, because it is more likely that he was accepted at the Salon being a teacher.) Anyway he had several pupils. Jean Aufort (?-1988/11/11) was one of his pupils (?at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris) (iR69). Hermann-Paul / Georges Hermann Rene Paul (1874?-1940/06/23) was one of his pupils (? at the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris or the Académie Julian in Paris) (iR69;iR70). Katherine S. Dreier (1877-1952) was one of his pupils (iR69). Colin inspired Albert de Meuron, who debuted at the Salon in 1848, to paint in the Pyrenées and to use a warmer pallet (iR69).

Colin painted mainly landscapes and seascapes. Many of them in the Basque region. First he also painted in Barbizon and the coast of Brittanny (R88). Count Doria called him one of the founders of the modern plein-air school and that he connected the school of 1830 and the Impressionists (R9;R88). Count Doria also was a tireless supporter of Colin (R87;R88;aR17). Colin often visited his patron Count Armand Doria at the Château d’Orrouy in Picardy (iR35;iR3). In 1999 there was an auction of his collection of Colin and Cals, see below at further reading (iR24). Colin also was supported by the art-dealer Ambroise Vollard (aR17).
Colin painted in a Barbizon-style (R3). He was a pré-impressionist (R88). Arsène Alexandre calls him ‘one of the last among the great romantics and one of the first among the great naturalists‘. Not one time Alexandre refers Colin to the Impressionists (aR9). Colin painted en-plein-air (iR5;iR35). In his titles Colin very often rendered an indication of place and regularly an indication of time of day / season / weather conditions (see account). He tried to render changing atmospheric effects (aR10). Others praise him for his ‘colorful palette and his perfect mastery of southern light’ (aR4). His style sometimes was more realistic and sometimes more impressionistic, using a looser brushstroke (iR35). Or as Monneret puts it ‘in a Realist style and brilliantly coloured’ (R88).  In his early years his pallet is more dark and becomes more and more light and at the end totally impressionistic (R16). His compositions can be classical (R9). His pallet is warm and his colours truthful (R9;iR69). His light effects are important (R9). Castagnary praised Colin for his light effects (R3;R88). Zola also praised the marvellous intensity of his light (iR4;R87). Arsène Alexandre praised his ‘wild energy, a superb vitality’ (aR9).
Colin also painted some portraits.
Colin often painted the same themes. Did he do so to capture the different effects of light on different hours of the day, in different seasons and different weather conditions? Or were some works more prepatory studies for a larger painting (to be send in for the Salon) or a later copy? Or did he just enjoy to paint on some pitoresque spots? I hope these answers will be replied. I also hope that more will become known about the dating of his works, who are mostly not dated.


Biography of Gustave-Henri Colin:

  • 1828/07/11 Gustave-Henri Colin was born in Arras (iR1;iR3;R87;R88;aR17), 185km north of Paris (iR9).
    His father Jacques-Henry Colin was a deputy judge. His uncle was mayor in Arras from 1837-48 (aR12;aR17).
  • 1850-53: studied law in Paris (aR12;R87;R88;aR17)
  • 1857: Colin lived at 4, Rue Duperré, Paris (iR1), close to the Place Pigalle (iR9).
  • 1858: established a studio in Ciboure (iR3;aR10), this is in the French Basque region.
    1858 onwards Colin divided his life between Paris, Arras and Ciboure (R88).
  • 1859: Colin lived at 66, Rue des Martyrsm Paris (iR1), just east of Place Pigalle (iR9).
  • 1860: married Marie Carmier Couspeire, a Basque. They move to rue Agorette in Ciboure (aR4;aR12;iR3;aR10;R88;aR17)
  • 1861: Colin lived in Saint-Jean-de-Luz  (iR1), other sources (wrongly mention he moved here in 1862 (iR3;aR10;aR17); it lies just north of Ciboure; see also the thematical and topographical overview of his works.
  • 1867-92 : lived at the 14, Rue Fontaine, Paris in the 9th arrondissement called Saint-Georges (iR1;R259), just south-west of Place Pigalle (iR9).
    1873: his (correspondence) address for the Salon was: Rue d’Amsterdam, 77, Paris (the same as Brandon) (iR1), just north of Saint-Lazarre station (iR9).
  • after 1880: painted with Zacharie Baton (1851-1925) in Arras (iR69)
  • 1889: Colin took part in the decoration of the Salon des Arts in the Hôtel de Ville in Paris (close to the Sacré Coeur) with ‘La Seine au Bas-Meudon’ (R9). He did so together with François Flameng, Léon Bonnat, P.A.J. Dagnan-Bouveret, Léon Glaize, Charles Lapostolet, Joseph Layraud and Tony Robert-Fleury. François Flameng did his decoration in 1903 (iR70).
  • 1893-1910: Colin lives at 17, Rue Victor-Massé (IXe arrondisement), Paris (iR1), 5 minutes walk from his former house at the Rue Pierre-Fontaine (iR9).
  • 1900: works of Gustave-Henri Colin are exhibited at the Exposition Universelle: no.111. La recolte de maïs a Urugana (Basses-Pyrenées) (à M. Demonts); no.112. Paysage des Pyrenées (à M. Henri Rouart)  (iR107), see also the account.
  • In  1907 Colin was appointed in the Legion d’Honneur (iR17)  as Chevalier (iR5;aR4); according to another source he was appointed so in 1899 and in 1907 as Officier (aR17).
  • 1910/12/28 Gustave-Henri Colin died in Paris (iR3;aR17)
    Another source mentions he died the 29th (iR4)
    Other sources mention he maybe died in 1911 or 1919 (R3;iR69;iR24;R88).
    This date 1911 is also rendered in the 1912 catalogue of the posthumous sale of Rouart (R45,p71).
  • Colin rests at the Belvédère Cemetery in Ciboure, where a street bears his name (aR4;aR17), but on Google maps I couldn’t find such a street in Ciboure, but in Arras there is a Rue Gustave Colin.


Sources on Gustave-Henri Colin:
Gustave Colin is hardly mentioned in books on Impressionism and in many books not at all (R4;R5;R6;R8;R19;R21;R86;R94;R95). Rewald mentions him shortly only two times (R1,p316+336). Adler in her book ‘unknown Impressionists’ doesn’t mention him at all (R89). My main sources are Moffett (1986;R2,p120), Walther (2013;R3,p655), Schurr & Cabanne (2008,R9,p189+190), Spiess (R16,p105), Adhémar (1974=R87,p235), Monneret (R88I,p145/6), Wikipedia (iR3;iR5), the Salon database (iR1), archive (iR19=aR5+aR13), BNF (iR40=aR8+aR9), Eclecticlight (iR35=aR1), RKD (iR24), Benezit (iR69), Grove Art (iR70) and the additional references (=aR; see below). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6), mutualart (iR11), Artnet (iR13), Artprice (iR16=aR2), invaluable art (iR17), Joconde (iR23=aR3), art.rmngp (iR127), Google images (iR10) and the additional references (aRx). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings. See works of Colin in Musea: in Pau (M170);
For further reading see:
Bénézit (1976,vol.III,p106=R75;1999=R76), Busse (1977,p249=R77), Witt Library (1978,p63=R78), Allgemeines Künstler Lexicon (1998,vol.20,p254=R79) (iR24;iR4)
Gustave Colin 1828-1910; exhibition catalogue. Musée d’Arras, 1967 (iR24).
Dessins et tableaux d’Adolphe-Félix Cals,  tableaux de Gustave Colin, provenant de l’ancienne collection Doria. Auction catalogue, auction house Piasa, Paris, 1999. (iR24)
The 1884 catalogue sale (=aR21)

Additional references:

  1. Vanished French Impressionists 5 (on eclecticlight=iR35)
  2. List of 443 works of Colin at Artprice (iR16)
  3. List (and images) of 17 works of Colin at Joconde (=iR23)
  4. (pictures of a work and a biography of Colin, mostly derived from aR12)
  5. (=iR19; catalogue of Drouot auction 1882/03/29 of 35 works of Colin) PDF-version ;
  6. (picture of Colin and biography)
  7. (=iR117; drawing of Colin exhibited at the salon in 1908 + info)
  8. (auction catalogue of 23 works of Colin exhibited at Drouot 1886/03/25; = iR40)
  9. (posthumous auction catalogue of 45 works by Colin at Drouot 1909/12/03, with a short biography of Arsène Alexandre; =iR40)
  10. (references to Colin in the correspondence of Whistler)
  11. Musée des Beaux-Arts in Arras (has a collection of 30 works of Colin (aR4;aR17)
  12. (a short biography of Colin)
  13. (1874/03/26 auction of the collection of C. Dutilleux with a short biography by his pupil and friend Gustave Colin, with engravings of works by Delacroix, Corot, Dutilleux and others; =iR19)
  14. “Gustave Colin.” In Database of Modern Exhibitions (DoME). European Paintings and Drawings 1905-1915. Last modified Nov 4, 2019.  =iR261; overview of contributions of Colin in exhibitions and auctions from 1905-1915 (4 entries)
  15. (article on a work by Colin)
  16. (depicting 5 works by Colin)
  17. (article on Colin)
  18. (short article on Colin and some large pictures)
  19. (several works of Colin at an auction 2019/12/13)
  20. pictures of Colin send to me by others
  21.  (catalogue of the Colin sale at Hôtel Drouot 1884/03/27; =iR40)


Recommended citation: “Impressionism: Partaker of the first ‘impressionist’ exposition: Gustave-Henri Colin, painter of Basque landscapes and themes. Last modified 2023/12/26.”