Johan Barthold Jongkind was one of the foremost landscape painters of the 19th-century. Today, scholars often regard the artist as a pioneer who influenced landscape painting as a whole. He was both an influence and a mentor to distinguished artists, such as Alfred Sisley, Edouard Manet, and Claude Monet, whose artwork was deeply inspired by Jongkind’s.
Johan Barthold Jongkind was born in June 1819, in the town of Lattrop, Netherlands, near the German border. He studied art under Andreas Schelfhout, in an academy in The Hague. He then moved to Montparnasse in Paris, where he studied under François-Édouard Picot and Eugène Isabey. Two years later, he exhibited at the Paris Salon, received with critical acclaim by critics such as Émile Zola and Charles Baudelaire. Jongkind was to experience some success, however, he started suffering from depression aggravated by alcoholism.
Back in Paris after a period of five years in the Netherlands, in 1861 he would rent a studio in Montparnasse, where his artwork started to show a more mature style and a glimpse of the Impressionism to come.
In the following year, he went to Honfleur, in order to meet some of his friends and fellow artists such as Eugène Boudin, Alfred Sisley, and young Claude Monet, all of them looked up to Jongkind as a mentor. Monet even credited to Jongkind the “definitive education” of his own eye. Jongkind exhibited in the first Salon des Refusés in 1863. Eleven years later he was invited by the Impressionist group to participate in their first exhibition, however, he declined.
His most frequent subject was marine landscape, which he executed both in France and in the Netherlands. Several of his works depict the Seine river, especially the Notre-Dame Cathedral area. He created plein air watercolors and used them as sketches in order to produce fully realized oil paintings.
In 1878, Jongkind and Joséphine Fesser, his companion, moved to live a small town called La Côte-Saint-André, where he would be buried at the local cemetery, after his death in a nearby town, in 1891.
Although the artist wasn’t the most famous of the early Impressionist painters, he would set a strong foundation for the development of the 19th-century landscape painting. Jongkind influenced Impressionists and especially, the plein-air landscape painting of the Barbizon school.