Charles Fromuth, who moved from the United States to Brittany, had just one passion: painting boats. A rare group of 46 pictures reveals his avant-garde talent.
Charles Fromuth (1866-1937), Winter Rhythm, 1929, pastel drawing, signed, monogrammed and dated, reference no. 931-C.C, 73.5 x 68 cm (28.94 x 26.78 in).
Estimated between €150 and €6,000, these views reveal not just the work of an artist entirely devoted to painting the sea and boats, but also his peculiar, ahead-of-its-time style. Charles Fromuth’s favorite medium was pastel, which he made himself, allowing him to create his own shades of color and very brisk, expressive drawings that render movement perfectly. The discovery of Japanese prints at the 1900 Exposition Universelle convinced him that he was on the right track; his taste for nature and perspective did the rest. Evening Rhapsodies in the Harbor, estimated at €2,000/3,000, and the impressive Winter Rhythm (€4,000/6,000) show how much his work stood apart from that of other seascape painters of the time, and perhaps also why he is only now gaining recognition. Fromuth studied with Thomas Eakins at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts before discovering Europe and France in 1889. The following year he went to Brittany—more exactly, Pont-Aven and Concarneau, where he moved into the Hôtel de France and never left. He exhibited his works until 1910, but afterwards stopped seeking commercial success. The money his brother sent him and the sale of some paintings—views of the port filled with boats and heavily laden skies—were enough for this artist to lead his solitary life.