Although the painter’s saturated colors foreshadowed Fauvism, he was among the first and most loyal Impressionists, as this 1890 landscape attests.
Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927), Femme et enfant dans un paysage (Woman and Child in a Landscape), 1890, oil on canvas, signed lower right and dated, annotated on back in blue “Village allée avec femme (Guillaumin)” (“Village Lane with Woman [Guillaumin]), 82 x 65 cm/32.28 x 25.59 in.
Armand Guillaumin (1841-1927) participated in six of the eight Impressionist exhibitions from 1874 to 1886. He was one of the movement’s first followers and its last representative at his death in 1927. The artist was often compared to Claude Monet until 1893, when he moved to the Creuse. His bright palette, hatched strokes and enthusiasm for open-air painting, unmistakable signs of the master’s influence, are found in Femme et enfant dans un paysage (Woman and Child in a Landscape). The vertical format is surprising for a landscape artist who usually painted sweeping panoramas. Guillaumin clearly focused on the motif in this composition, where tall, straight blades of grass respond to the mighty tree and crisscrossing brushstrokes evoke wind rustling the leaves. The two standing figures, a young woman and her child, could be members of the painter's family—a very Impressionist way of making a landscape more intimate. Guillaumin presented this work at the 1890 Salon des Indépendants under number 416 and with the title Femme et enfant dans une prairie (Woman and Child in a Meadow). He showed 10 paintings at the exhibition, a large number of works which can be explained by his unique situation among the Impressionists as one of its few working-class members. He was born in Paris into a family from Moulins, in central France. A tailor’s son, who at age 15 began working in his uncle's lingerie shop. He was too poor to pay for an education. Three years later, in 1860, he found employment with the Paris-Orléans railway and, later, at the Ponts-et-Chaussées Institution. For about 30 years, he worked at a day job while continuing to paint. During his spare time, Guillaumin took classes at the Swiss Academy, where he met his friend Pissarro, and from 1863 exhibited at the Salon des Refusés. That was a challenge! He participated in all the shows to sell as many paintings as possible and achieve his long-awaited success at last. Lack of means also kept Guillaumin close to home. Limited to the Paris and Ile de France region, his favorite spots were Pontoise, Clamart, Charenton and, in the late 1880s, Essonne, where he enjoyed the peace and quiet. In 1891, his life changed when he won the lottery. The painter quit his job and began traveling. Soon he moved to the Creuse, where his colors heralding Fauvism blossomed.