1865-1929 | French
(A Dresser Gilder)
Signed and dated “Marius Barret 92”
Oil on canvas
A cabinetmaker carefully prepares an intricately carved piece of furniture for gilding in this oil on canvas entitled Un apprêteur-doreur by French painter Marius-Antoine Barret. Barret was both a painter and engraver who worked across a variety of subjects, including portraits, animal paintings, still lifes and landscapes. This work, representing an important segment of his oeuvre, is an intriguing blend of French impressionist technique and realist subject matter. It was painted for and exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1892, the annual exhibition where artists showcased the very best examples of their work. Rendered with an earthen palette and nuanced tonality and marked by an exceptional use of light, it demonstrates Barret at his most artistic.
A member of the Provençal school of painting, Barret was a talented portraitist able to enliven his canvases with the warm light of southern France, as evidenced by the present work. Here, the artist gives meticulous consideration to the cabinetmaker, his furniture creation and the details of his studio backdrop, however, the painting’s loosely rendered brushstrokes and dappled light are exemplary of the influence that Impressionism had on French artists of the late 19th century. Barret is particularly skilled in his treatment of the subject’s humble costume and gestures, setting a highly naturalistic scene of a laborer at work. The figure’s posture, leaning slightly forward and arms extended, animates the composition and engages the viewer in his task. Overall, the work is an ode to the dignity of the worker, presenting a tranquil image of French provincial life.
Marius-Antoine Barret was born in Marseille in 1865 and began his artistic career as a student at the École des Beaux-Arts in his hometown. There, he studied under Dominique Antoine Magaud, Louis-Joseph-Raphaël Collin and Jean-Baptiste Olive. He went on to become a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon where he exhibited Un apprêteur-doreur in 1892, and he was awarded an honorable mention in 1923 followed by a silver medal in 1928. In addition to being a painter, Barret was an accomplished engraver, producing illustrations for the prose poems of Maurice de Guérin. Today, works by Barret reside in the collections of the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, Musée Cantini (Marseille) and Gassendi Museum (Digne-les-Bains).
Canvas: 45 3/4" high x 35" wide
Frame: 60 5/8" high x 50 1/8" wide
Exhibitions:Paris Salon, 1892