Carrière, Eugène

Carrière, Eugène (1849-1906)

To view all all works by Eugène Carrière displayed on our website as either present or past stock click here: – Eugène Carrière PicturesThe painting and print-making of Eugène Carrière occupies a distinct area in the shifting  terrain of Symbolist Art. Acknowledged by his contemporaries, and to this day, as one of the most accomplished of those artists, it can still come as a surprise that one whose subject matter was so dissimilar to his fellows, is nevertheless truly a Symbolist. Carrière painted his family, and as an extension, and perhaps at the heart of this subject, he painted motherhood. This is no simple group of family portraits though and no genre painting of family life of the time. Carrière painted the spirit of the his family, and using his own imagination and vision, reached into the archetype of the maternal. His vision used the manifest and the everyday in his outside world as the screen for the personal idea and for the expression of a deeply felt spiritual experience.

The forms in Carrières paintings and prints are discerned as if through a mist, a perpetual twilight with all that twilight can evoke; a sense of mystery and of dream, the mood of melancholy, the experience of a quiet stillness, a wish to contemplate. It is through the actual treatment of his subject matter that these more familiar Symbolist pre-occupations emerge. The work is infused with the “mysterious centre of thought”, the phrase used by Carrières friend Paul Gauguin to describe a central tenet of Symbolism.
Carrière was born in Gournay, Seine-et-Marne in 1849. In 1851 the family moved to Strasbourg and there he grew up, later becoming apprenticed to a lithographer, a skill that stood him in good stead in later years. In 1869 he moved to Paris to become a painter and enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He spent several months in London (1876-77) and an important influence from that time came from the painting of Turner. Hardly an influence in terms of subject matter, but influence can be seen in the the mood-evocative use of an indistinct and blurred outline. Whistler too was an influence from this time.

Carrière returned to Paris and to the development of a very successful career, particularly as a painter of portraits executed in his own distinct style (his portraits of Verlaine and Gaugin are particularly well known), but the gentle and intimate renditions of the members of his family were a special and favoured subject matter. Intellectually he was part of the fin-de-siècle avant-garde and Symbolist scene in Paris and was geatly admired by Mallarmé. Another exceptional champion of his work was August Rodin and Rodin in 1904, close to the end of Carrière’s life, organised a banquet in his honour.