Camille Flers (French, 1868)

Born in Paris on February 15, 1802, Camille Flers first learned painting in the studio of a porcelain decorator. He later worked as a theater decorator and a dancer. He became a pupil of the animal painter Joseph Francois Paris.

Flers devoted himself to landscape painting and he became one of the precursors of plein air painting. Flers referred to himself as a “romantique-naturaliste” and he was a member of the new Naturalist school of landscape painting that emerged in the 1830s. This “new” naturalistic approach was in direct opposition to the official classicism of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He was one of the first to paint “sure le motif” (from life) in the forest of Fontainebleau, and he also made frequent visits to Barbizon joining the group of artists known as ‘le groupe de Marlotte.’

Flers works consist predominantly of views of Normady and the Paris environs. He captured with authentic sensitivity the familiar scenes of farmyard, prairies, ponds, river banks, and thatched cottages. He made his debut at the Salon in 1831 with a View of the Village of Pissevache, Bas-Valais and continued to exhibit there until 1863. His early style of the 1830s and 1840s is characterized by splashes of thick paint, a roughly textured paint surface, a bright palette and a range of lively tones.

Between 1850 and 1860 he painted a series of images of rivers and ponds with boats and fishermen. These were executed in a style very close to that of Jules Dupre, with whom he was working at the time. The surface of these paintings is smooth, the touch more discrete with a dominantly light-colored tonality.

Flers was also noted for his pastels, which he exhibited at the Salon of 1843. In 1846 he published his theories of drawing in pastel in the Journal L’Artiste. These published “theories” did much to revive interest in the medium of pastel.

Biography courtesy of Frances Aronson Fine Art, LLC