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Cottage in the Dunes<br>Signed J. C. Cazin (lower left)

Jean Charles Cazin
(1841 - 1901)
Cottage in the Dunes
Signed J. C. Cazin (lower left)

Oil on canvas
23.5 x 29 inches (59.7 x 73.6 cm.)

This painting was originally owned by gilded age magnate Henry C. Gibson. When Gibson died in 1891, he was rumored to be the richest man in Philadelphia (wine and spirits, banking, insurance, railroading). Gibson bequeathed his entire collection of over 100 European paintings to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The painting remained in that museum’s collection for over 100 years.

Provenance: Henry C. Gibson, Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia , 1892 (bequest from the above), Sold on behalf of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Order to Benefit its American Art Acquisition Fund

Christie’s, New York, October 30, 2002, Lot 130


Jean Charles Cazin was born at Samer in the Pas-de-Calais. He eventually rented and then purchased a house in Equihen near Boulogne-sur-Mer. There Cazin studied the environment of this sea coast area in northern France. In discussing this painting the 1985 exhibition catalogue states:

In this landscape, recalling his own house overlooking the sand dunes, [Cazin] impressively records the solitary nature of the site and the muted color range that came on at the end of the day. . . . Because he is linked to several traditions at the same time, including one phase of Impressionism, Cazin is an artist worthy of considerable study whose subtlety must not be overlooked.

From the Salon des Refusés in 1863 to Knighthood and later a Grand Prix at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, few painters straddled the growing chasm between academic tradition and the avant-garde as notably as Cazin. He was also involved, along with his wife Marie, a noted sculptor, in the decorative arts making and decorating stoneware ceramics.

Cazin studied in Paris under Boisbaudran at the Ecole Gratuite de Dessin. He was friends there with Legros, Ribot, Fantin-Latour and Lhermitte. After teaching for several years at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, he moved to Chailly near Barbizon where he studied the Barbizon artists. In the late 1860s he became curator of the Musée des Beaux-Arts and director of the Ecole de Dessin in Tours. It was in Tours that Cazin and his wife began working together in ceramics.

In 1871, troubled by the Franco-Prussian War, Cazin went to England and worked at the Fulham Potteries. While in England, he was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite School. Settling in Equihen upon his return to France in 1875, Cazin was eventually recognized for both his painting and his work in ceramics. In 1882 he was awarded the Legion of Honour, becoming an officer in 1889. His paintings received a gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and a grand prize at the Exposition Universelle of 1900. Cazin received an important public commission in 1888 when he was asked to finish the frescoes that Puvis de Chavannes had started at the Panthéon in Paris.

The influence of Cazin’s academic training, his close association with the Realist and Barbizon painters and his awareness of Impressionism all seem to be displayed in the present painting. The mood and tonality of Cazin’s landscapes made him unique. The critic Husmans considered Cazin a truly modern spirit, touching and evocative. Cazin died at Lavendou on March 17, 1901. His works are on display at the Louvre in Paris and in most major museums around the world.

Exhibited: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, The Beneficent Connoisseurs, (Henry C. Gibson Collection), January - February 1974, no. 14

Japan, Millet and His Barbizon Contemporaries, 1985, no. 49.