(b. 1824, Marseille, d. 1886, Marseille)


Adolphe-Joseph-Thomas Monticelli, French painter. In 1846, after studying at the Ecole d'Art in Marseille, he left Provence to study in Paris with Paul Delaroche. Although he had been trained to work in a Neo-classical style by his teachers in Marseille, in Paris he admired the Troubadour pictures of such artists as Pierre Révoil and Fleury Richard and the bold colours and rich surface impasto of Delacroix's oil sketches. He also copied many of the Old Masters in the Louvre.

When he returned to Marseille in 1847 Emile Loubon (1809-63), newly appointed director of the Ecole de Dessin in Marseille and a friend of many realist landscape painters in Paris, encouraged him and another local painter, Paul Guigou, to record the landscapes and traditional village scenes of Provence (e.g. Rural Scene, Musée Grobet-Labadié, Marseille).

The master who was to have the greatest influence over the young Monticelli was Narcisse Virgile Diaz de la Peña, whom he met when he returned to Paris from 1855 to 1856. Monticelli's visits to Paris exposed him to the Rococo Revival, which was being popularised by artists including Diaz, and he started producing scenes of courtly figures in garden settings a la Watteau. This became a favourite subject, and from the 1860s until the end of his career Monticelli treated numerous variations on the theme.

The Prussian siege of Paris in 1870 forced Monticelli to return to Marseille. His final sixteen years were his most productive. The vibrant colours and thick, impastic surfaces of his late works struck a responsive chord in the young Vincent Van Gogh, who collected Monticelli's paintings and expressed his indebtedness to the older artist's work.

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