Wednesday, October 23, 2019

French Naturalist Henri Biva

Henri Biva, c. 1905–06, Matin à Villeneuve (From Waters Edge),
oil on canvas, 151.1 x 125.1 cm.
Henri Biva (1848-1929) was a French landscape painter devoted to extreme naturalism and an accurate portrayal of light and detail.

He painted outdoors directly from nature, typically seated on a low stool with his canvas on a folding tripod easel.

Henri Biva, By the river, oil on canvas, 122 x 162 cm
His paintings often depict a very specific time of day, with tantalizing glimpses of far space through openings in the foliage.

Henri Biva, Forest in the spring, oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm
Because Biva's paintings contain so much carefully observed information, it's likely they were painted over several consecutive sessions, not on a single day.

Henri Biva, The River
His truth to nature and devotion to detail is reminiscent of Ivan Shishkin, Peder Mork Mønsted, and William Trost Richards, all of whom have been discussed on this blog.
There's a collection of his work on The-Athenaeum


Unknown said...

Hi Jim
Your selection of Henri Biva's paintings has so much atmosphere I can almost feel the humidity and peace of the scene.
His color's in the first painting is amazing.

Thank you for sharing samples of his work.

Rich said...

What a beautiful sight - didn't know this painter: He must have painted a billion leaves in his lifetime.

Virginia Fhinn said...

In one of your previous posts about Shishkin you quoted a critic of his who called him "an accountant of leaves" - that quote makes me laugh every time I think about it. It's true, and it seems true of Biva too, and yet somehow it really works for them. Although they are both Accountants of Leaves, their painting styles are different in a way that I can't discern with my amateur eye. What makes them different?

Gene Fama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gene Fama said...

Beautiful. I can't use 'em though. Too much green. (In-joke!)

Clem said...

I am grateful to you, James for this stimulating and educational blog.
I think the link should be

jeckert55 said...

I suspect that Biva's brain was wired very much like Stephen Wiltshire's--meaning he'd see an after-image when he looked away from his live reference. Sadly, I wouldn't be able to replicate this degree of detail in a scene without the aid of a photo projected onto the canvas. (Ivan Shishkin was blessed with photographic memory similar to Biva's).