Charles Camoin (1879 – 1965)

Charles Camoin was born in Marseille in 1879, the son of a paint manufacturer.  Moving to Paris in 1898 he studied art at the École des Beaux Arts under the renowned Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. During this time he met fellow artists in the French Expressionist movement such as Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, Henri-Charles Manguin and Georges Rouault.

In 1900 Camoin moved to Provence to do his three year military service, managing to continue painting in the Provençal countryside around Arles and Aix-en-Provence, and striking up a long friendship with Paul Cézanne until the latter’s death in 1906.  Camoin also spent time with Albert Marquet painting in St Tropez (1904 – 05), and had his first one man exhibition in Paris at the Galerie Berthe Weil. During this period he also exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, and in 1905 at the Salon d’Automne with André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Othon Friesz, Kees van Dongen and Louis Valtat. The room in which these artists exhibited was named the “Cage des Fauves” by the critic Louis Vauxcelles – the birth of the Fauvist movement. Soon after this he had a one man exhibition at the Parisian gallery of Picasso’s dealer, Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, followed by an exhibition in Frankfurt at the gallery of Ludwig Schames, with many of his paintings being exhibited at various Salons throughout Europe and Russia during this period.

After travelling to Morocco and Tangier with Matisse and Marquet in 1912, a selection of his work was exhibited in 1913 at the hugely successful International Exhibition of Modern Art at the Armory in New York, which also travelled to Chicago and Boston, showing around 1300 works by 300 avant-garde artists, both European and American.

By 1918, after a visit to Renoir in Cagnes-sur-Mer with Matisse, Charles Camoin’s style changed from the pure colour of his Fauvist period to a softer palette and a compelling interest in the interplay of light on objects, leading the critic Bernard Dorival to refer to him as “the most Impressionist of the Fauves.”

After Camoin’s marriage in 1920 and the birth of his daughter in 1933, he divided his time between his studio in Montmartre and St Tropez. He exhibited every year at the Paris Salons and at various Parisian galleries, including those of Marcel Bernheim and Bernheim-Jeune. In 1944 he was made an Officier de la Légion d’Honneur and in 1959 a Commandeur des Arts et Lettres by the French Government.

Charles Camoin died in 1965, the last surviving student of Gustave Moreau.

There are examples of Charles Camoin’s work in seventeen museums throughout France, most notably at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Musée de l’Annonciade, St Tropez. Internationally examples of his work are to be found at the Courtauld Institute, London; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; The Art Institute of Chicago, and at various museums in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Spain (Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid ), and Australia.

Charles Camoin, 'Cannes, Le Port'

Charles Camoin, 'Cannes, Le Port' I

Cannes, Le Port
Oil on board: 33 x 51 cm
Signed ‘Ch Camoin’, c.1955