The School of Normandy’s time lies between 1870 and 1930, covering the impressionist period and the great movements of modern painting, beginning with Fauvism then to Cubism and Expressionism.The School of Normandy is an extension of the School of Rouen, a term coined by A. Alexandre an art critic with the Figaro in 1902. However, the term for the School of Normandy was not born until 1969. This linked the artistic places like Vétheuil, Rolleboise, Giverny and Les Andelys which were frequented by many Norman artists with those of Près au Loups, Dieppedalle and Croisset.
The artists of the School were not set into one particular style, each remained true to their own techniques and personality. They participated in the movements that they felt were appropriate for them. Charles Frechon began painting in an impressionist technique, joined the pointillist movement, then moved back to impressionism because he felt the pointillism slowed his spontaneity.
The Seine was important to each of the artists as an inspiration. The artists attempted to depict the light and essence of the river. Delattre captured the effects of the changing light on the Seine Valley, the importance of shades and the indefinite color of water in each of his canvases. Robert-Antoine Pinchon was described as “the painter of the light” by critics of the time for his interpretation of the fogs of the Seine Valley.
Vétheuil and Giverny were two of the artists’ favorite locations to paint along the Seine. Les Andelys and Rouen and its surroundings were very important to the artists of the school. Each location provided its own aura and conditions that the artists related to.
As important as it was to the school, the Seine was not the only inspiration to the artists. Marcel Couchaux painted animal subjects and created a number of portraits. Charles Frechon painted the edges of forests and flower gardens. Pierre Dumont became engrossed with painting cathedrals and monuments, his works oftened portrayed the Rouen Cathedral and the busy streets downtown.
This group of artists maintained a friendship and exchanged ideas and techniques amongst themselves. The artists learned from each other by participating in exhibitions and councils. This created the character that we associate with the School of Normandy.