Albert Rigolot

French, 1862-1932 Biography

Albert-Gabriel Rigolot was born in Paris on November 28, 1862, and died there on April 25, 1932. Son of a house painter, the young Albert sometimes worked with his father after school but did not join the family business, preferring instead to paint pictures. By age 14 he had already produced exceptional drawings; by 19 he was working on canvas. He studied with Leon Pelouse (1885-1889) and Auguste Allongé (1889-1891) who guided him on an extensive exploration of his medium.

Between 1890 and 1893 he met various artists who were teaching and studying at the "Academie Julian" in Paris. He befriended several American painters, including Lorus B. Pratt, Edwin Evans, John B.Fairbanks, and John Hafen, and took them out to countryside to paint. The Americans had been sent to Paris to learn how to paint “modern French murals” for Mormon temples in Utah and were deeply influenced by Rigolot. Some of his other students, Somares, Sheard and Lessertisseux, are now forgotten.

Rigolot's work was first exhibited at the Salon of French artists in 1886. He became a member of the Salon in 1888 and continued to exhibit there for much of his career. Among his many prizes were an honorable mention in 1889; third place bronze medal in 1891; second place silver medal in 1892; out-of-competition at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893; gold medal at the Lyons World's Fair in 1894; and silver medal at the Paris World's Fair in 1900. In 1901 he was inducted into the Society of French Orientalists and named a Knight in the Legion of Honour.

Between 1895 and 1897 he traveled to Algeria, working in pastel and oil. Influenced by his association with the Society of French Orientalists, he sought to capture the bright North African light. His works from this period, including a broad spectrum of Algerian harvest and landscape scenes, demonstrate considerable freedom. Back in France, Rigolot particularly enjoyed portraying riverscapes and landscapes -- forests, ponds and riverbanks -- where he found purity and solemnity. Sharing the philosophy of the Barbizon and Pont-Aven painters, he brought a naturalistic approach to his oeuvre, concentrating on the effects of light as it shone through trees onto riverbanks. Rigolot was much admired for his masterful renditions of luminous landscapes. He is thought to have created some 1500 pastels and oils in his lifetime.