1864 – 1944
The self-taught Fauve painter Julien Féron began painting at age 34 just before the turn of the century. From the very beginning, the study of color was his natural obsession. In his formative years from 1900-1905, he allied himself with fellow Normandy artists Pierre Hode, Pierre Dumont, Eugene Tirvert and Robert Pinchon. All were interested in the budding Fauvist movement. Féron’s color theories mirrored the ideals of the expressive Fauves. Like them, he found a lack of color in art disturbing and the presence of black equally dark and uninspiring.
Throughout his career, Féron painted almost exclusively en plein air, traveling about the countryside with easel and palette in tow. He built himself a studio in Le Houlme and journeyed back and forth to Paris and Rouen to views exhibits and to network with other artists. In 1904, Féron met the Impressionist Armand Guillaumin, who would be a tremendous influence to his work. Guillaumin encouraged Féron to paint outside of Normandy and on three occasions, in 1905, 1908, and 1910, the pair went to the Creuse region to paint side by side. Stylistically, Guillaumin’s advice resulted in Féron flattening his strokes. He also encouraged Féron to experiment more extensively with harmony and values. The paintings done side by side with Guillaumin in the Creuse region, like Chateau dans la Creuse, reflect Guillaumin’s palette and his passion for purple. Féron’s canvases of quick dabs of pure pigment appeared in exhibitions in Rouen beginning in 1906. Subsequently, Féron’s work was accepted as a member of the Salon des Indépendants in 1908 and the Salon d’Automne in 1911. He was also a member of GoupXXX with Vlaminck, Matisse, Marquet & Dumont.
During the last thirty years of his life, Féron’s style became increasingly more personal. He produced canvases with speed and ease reflective of his level of comport and mastery of the Fauvist technique. His subject matter also changed when he discovered the beauty of Southern France and bought a home in Gassin where he continued to indulge his passion for color.