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The son of a lace draftsman, Pierre-Eugène Montézin was introduced to the arts at a young age and was entered by his father into a decorative atelier to learn the art of executing murals. This was a strong decorative aesthetic among modernists of the day. His passion for hunting and fishing gave him a taste for the outdoors. In 1903 Montézin was introduced to the artist Quost, who encouraged him to concentrate on drawing and painting and to study the theories of Impressionism.  He chose to paint landscapes, applying the ideals of painting en plein-air.  Montezin exhibited his first work at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1903 and was awarded medals at the 1907 and 1910 salon.

 

When war broke out in 1914, Montézin enlisted and fought at the front, receiving the Médaille Militaire at the battles of the Meuse. At the end of the war, he returned to Paris and resumed painting, spending a year at Dreux and Moret-sur-Loing, concentrating on the rivers, villages, and agricultural scenes of the region. Montézin spent very little time in his studio preferring the integrity of working only from nature. Monetzin spent some time painting in Neuilly sur Seine, and also spent time in Veneux les Sablons, where his house was decorated with frescoes.

 

 

Montézin began to win honours as early as 1920 when he received the Rosa Bonheur Prize, a special award for animal painting named after the famous female animal painter of the 19th century. A seminal moment in his career came three years later, when he become the recipient of the Légion d’Honneur at the Salon des Artistes Français, for a landscape painting, the first artist to do so since 1897. Critical reaction to this nomination was explosive. For thirty years no landscape had received the Medal of Honor which, since 1897, had been awarded only to figure painters and painters of compositions. For three decades landscapes had been considered a minor form of painting, a fact which made Montézin’s triumph all the more exceptional.

 

In 1932 the painters of the Salon unanimously elected Montézin president of the Salon jury awarding him the Medal of Honor. The same year he had a great exhibition in Paris to which the public flocked. 237 canvases were shown, all landscapes, and similar successful exhibitions in Paris followed in 1936, 1938 and 1943. He succeeded Edouard Vuillard as the President of the Académie des Beaux Arts in 1945.

 

Montézin was most strongly influenced by the work of Claude Monet, and after the First World War he spent a year in the countryside around Dreux and Moret following in the footsteps of Alfred Sisley.  He remained loyal to the principles of Impressionism throughout his career despite the emergence of the Cubist, Surrealist and Abstract art movements and, like Paul Cézanne before him, he died whilst painting in the open air in 1946 in Brittany.  In his vigorous old age, still producing beautiful landscapes, he remarked to the famous French critic, Louis Vauxcelles, “The subjects of the landscape painter are less in front of the artist’s eyes, than in his heart.”

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