Adolphe Appian (1818 - 1898)

Adolphe Appian (born as Jacques Barthelemy Adolphe Appian) was both a respected landscape painter, merging the influences of Camille Corot and Charles Daubigny, and on the most original landscape draftsmen of the nineteenth century.  His finely executed etchings and soft, shadowy charcoal or conte crayon drawings have led the revival of interest in the artist of the misty waterways of the Ile-de-France and the more sun splashed southern countryside of Lyon and Provence.

Appain was born in Lyon in 1818, in the first generation of nineteenth-century naturalist painters.  He had his initial training at the Ecole des Beaus-Arts in Lyon, the best French art school outside of Paris.  In the early 1840’s, he established a career as a designer of textiles – Lyon was a major center of textile manufacture and printing, and he initially painted only for his private satisfaction.

The Rhone landscape around Lyon fostered a serious school of landscape art, however Appian retained close ties with a fellow student, Ravier, a gifted and eccentric Lyonnais landscape artist.  Through Ravier, Appian crossed paths with Corot, Daubigny and Courbet during the 1840’s and 1850’s, eventually farming strong friendships with Corot and Daubigny.  Appian’s first submission to the Paris Salon in 1853 was a charcoal drawing (the salon exhibited highly finished “presentation” drawings and prints as well as paintings and sculpture); and it was as a “fusainiste” or master of charcoal and crayon landscape drawings that Appian first gained fame.  He was particularly admired and promoted by Philippe Burty, the leading art critic of the period.

Through a close working friendship with Daubigny, who painted in the Lyon area several times and who encouraged Appian to travel with him to the Forest of Fontainebleau during the mid-1950’s, Appian acquired the painting experience to accompany his considerable skill in black and white.  In 1864, Appian joined the Societe des Aquafortistes, exhibiting and publishing venture introduced by Cadart.  Cadart published Appian’s etchings regularly into the 1880’s and also sold his paintings.

Appian’s career as a painter was firmly established in 1867, when his large Salon painting the “Lac du Bourget” was acquired by the Emperor Napoleon III.  Throughout the 1870’s, he painted in the Pyrenees, in southern France and along the Riviera, and in Venice and Genoa.  During this period he was one of the few artist to regularly show plein air (outdoor) painted sketches as well as large scale finished paintings as the Salon; and her was thus often associated with the younger Impressionists.

Over his lifetime Appian received more that a dozen gold medals for landscapes in virtually all media:  drawings, paintings, and prints, both at the Paris Salon and at the World’s Fairs in Munich and London as well as Paris.  He died in Lyon in 1898.