This exceptional pastel by French painter Henri Alphonse Barnoin captures life on a Breton harbor. A work of stunning realism, this highly detailed scene showing fishermen at work is also a wonderful example of Barnoin's Impressionist-inspired mastery of light, from the play of reflection of the sky on the water to the shadows on the sails. Known more for his oil paintings, Barnoin exhibited a talent for delicate detail in his pastels, and this sophisticated composition is truly a work of genius.
Though born in Paris, Barnoin is most associated with Brittany, and unlike Paul Gauguin who is often associated with Brittany, he took a much more conventional career path. He studied in Paris at the Beaux-Arts, first with Luc-Olivier Merson, and subsequently with Emile Dameron, who it is believed to have introduced Barnoin to Impressionism. Among Barnoin's favored subjects were marine, harbour, and coastal scenes, mostly painted in the rich settings of Brittany, among which this is pastel is a stellar example.
Barnoin regularly exhibited at the Paris Salon. He began exhibiting his art at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1909, winning an honorable mention the same year. He went on to win a silver medal in 1921 and a gold medal at the Salon in 1935. He was elected a full member of the Salon in 1935. His popularity and the demand for his works have grown exponentially over the past four decades.