The True Master: Johan Jongkind

Andréa Fernandes

Yesterday was the 118th anniversary of the death of Johan Barthold Jongkind (1819-1891). The Dutch artist isn't very well-known, especially in the U.S., but he had a significant impact on both Dutch and French art.

1. Johan Jongkind got his big break when the leader of the French Romantic school, Eugène Isabey, noticed his work in 1845, while Jongkind was still in the Netherlands. Isabey invited Jongkind to study under him in Paris; Jongkind was able to go thanks to a subsidy and allowance from the Prince of Orange, who later became King William III.

2. Although he did not experience much financial success during his lifetime, Jongkind received acclaim from critics and was highly respected by younger artists. Édouard Manet described Jongkind as "the father of modern landscape painting;" Jongkind later became known as the "father of Impressionism." Claude Monet, who was greatly influenced by Jongkind, referred to Jongkind as both the "true master" and explained, "I owe to him the definitive education of my eye."

3. Jongkind's friends—most of whom were also artists—made up for his lack of financial success. On April 8, 1860, they arranged an auction to raise money to enable Jongkind to return to Paris from the Netherlands. Works by 88 different artists, including Eugène Isabey, were sold. Once he returned to Paris, he remained in France for the rest of his life.

4. Jongkind was refused from the Salon exhibitions at least three times, including once in 1873, when his "Moonlight in Rotterdam" was rejected even though Jongkind had expected it to receive a medal. After the 1873 rejection, Jongkind never again attempted to exhibit at the Salon. In 1874, he refused to participate in the first Impressionist group exhibition, in part because of his feelings of rejection from the Salon.

A larger version of Jongkind's "The Seine and Notre-Dame in Paris" (shown above) is available here. Fans should check out the association "In the steps of Jongkind in the Dauphiné;" the Jongkind gallery on ARC; and George Besson's biography of Jongkind (in French). "Feel Art Again" appears every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. You can e-mail us at with details of current exhibitions, for sources or further reading, or to suggest artists.