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Adolphe Monticelli

Gateway to a Fort


Adolphe Monticelli
Marseilles 1824 – Marseilles 1886


Gateway to a Fort


About 1867


Oil on wood


40 x 60.6 cm


Adaline Van Horne Bequest, inv. 1945.903


Western Art

The influence of this Provençal painter on the young Cézanne and Van Gogh is well documented. His subject matter—dreamlike landscapes peopled with elegant figures in eighteenth-century garb or exotic personages from faraway lands—is firmly rooted in the dual phenomena of Orientalism and the Rococo revival that swept the fine and decorative arts in Second Empire France. Yet his audacious style, characterized by intense colour and frequent use of the palette knife, has no obvious parallel amongst either the official or the more forward-looking artists of his generation. His oeuvre shows a constant exploration of the unique relationship maintained between form and light, in contrast with the Impressionist approach, which favoured the breaking up of form under the ephemeral effect of light.

In this work the artist employs the yellow, orangey and ochre tones typical of the landscapes of the Paris region he painted before the Franco-Prussian War (1870). Most specialists concur in attributing his individual style to the relative isolation of his native Marseilles, where he spent much of his career. The place where the ruins of this old fort remain has not been identified, but it would be nice to think it could be the Fortin de Corbières, where the Fondation Monticelli is now located.

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