1866, a first group of artists known as " the seven original fishermen
" and made up of Americans, settled at Pont-Aven, a small Breton
village. They were Robert Wylie, Charles Way, Mores Wight, Shinn, Champney
and Bridgman. This was just the beginning. From Paris, from Philadelphia,
they came to paint in Pont-Aven
Three hotels accommodated them the Hôtel des Voyageurs,
the Hôtel du Lion dOr, and the Pension Gloanec. And gradually,
the inhabitants too. Julia Guillou became the manageress of the Hôtel
des Voyageurs in 1871, and then the owner in 1878. Roland Hersard de
la Villemarqué, a nephew of the author of the Barzaz Breiz, was
to stay several times at this hotel which became the " Hôtel
Julia ". In his " memories of Pont-Aven " (unpublished),
he calls the hostess " mother of the fellow artists ". It
was true that she loved them, took care of those who could not pay,
built studios, exhibited the pictures.
the 80s Pont-Aven was compared to Barbizon (an artists village
near Fontainebleau, 50 km. from Paris). Rubbing shoulders with the French,
there were " Pompiers " and Impressionists, Americans, English,
Danes. In 1885, it was estimated that there were about a hundred artists
They painted the sea, water-mills, the Bois dAmour, the chapel
of Tremalo in Nizon. And, of course, breton women, the " chouans
" (Royalist insurgents), and interior scenes of farmhouses.
work sessions, the artists went " curio hunting ", and amongst
them was Roland Hersart and his friend Delavallée. The barrister
Chamaillard from Quimper began painting and decorating furniture. They
did a theatrical production in the ruins of the castle of Rustefan representing
the ballad of Geneviève de Rustefan and the painters played jokes
on the English tourists with apparitions of ghosts.
The Impressionist painter Renoir, staying at the Hotel Julia, almost
fought a duel with an inspector of the Registration Department called
Garabi. An English admiral took his daughters in a boat to go bathing
in the sea.
And Julia Guillou built annexes and artists studios. The Pension
Gloanec, where Gauguin stayed in 1886, was renovated. Gauguin, with
the painter Emile Bernard, laid the foundations of what they were to
call " synthétisme ".
In Pont-Aven, new styles
were developed : cloisonisme, synthétisme, symbolism, nabis.
The 1889 exhibition at the café Volpini in Paris, bore the title
" Groupe impressionniste et synthétiste".
of the most famous artists of Pont-Aven
Paul GAUGUIN (see
fille du patron")
château de Rustefan")
emigrated to Philadelphia)