Terraire, Clovis (1858-1931)

Terraire, Clovis (1858-1931)
Terraire, Clovis (1858-1931)

Hailing from Marseille, France, Clovis Terraire was a celebrated painter of landscapes, scenes and still lifes. 

Terraire’s early years were a whirlwind of creative endeavour as he developed an advanced aptitude for both drawing and music. At the age of 20, pursuing his musical interests, he travelled to India with a theatre troupe where he presumably performed in an orchestra. Bassoon was his preferred instrument but he was equally adept as a pianist. Upon returning from his theatrical sojourn, he settled in Lyon, where he began his artistic training in earnest - studying under the supervision of Louis Guy (1824-1888). Guy was a versatile tutor with a particular skill for animal painting, a subject that would serve his pupil well.

Terraire’s landscapes are an alluring infusion of accurate draughtsmanship, movement and storytelling. His ability for composition provided a robust foundation, on which he built a narrative and atmosphere. In a piece from 1907, ‘Troupeau de Vaches S'Abreuvant’, a herd of cows amble through shallow water amid a near-luminous array of windswept grasses. Their muscular frames captured sublimely in subtle chiaroscuro and a rich palette.

A critic proclaimed how “his broad and colourful touch is perfectly assimilated to the sumptuous landscapes he describes” and how he often chose “motifs with a slightly high horizon line to better convey the majesty and grandeur of our Alpine panoramas”. He often pitched his easel in south-eastern France with Haute-Savoie, Dauphiné, Bugey and Bresse, all popular destinations. 

In this work from 1891, a crescent moon hangs conspicuously amid a lazy sunrise. While a burning sky, graduated with atmospheric tints, reflects in a glimmering pond. It’s a little reminiscent of the Barbizon school painters, particularly Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878).

Clovis Terraire

Terraire’s mastery was duly rewarded with entrance into the prestigious Paris Salon, where he became a regular exhibitor. While locally, the committee at the Salon de Lyon considered him a leading light of the ‘Lyonnaise school’. Various accolades followed including medals in Lyon, Paris, and in 1927, the illustrious ‘Prix Rosa-Bonheur’.

Towards the end of his career, his style adapted to assimilate with modern tastes. His brushwork became looser and less constrained to balanced compositions. By this time, he’d been elected a member of the Salon des Artistes Français, yet continued working tirelessly to accurately reflect nature in all her shifting moods.


Salon des Artistes Français, Salon de Lyon.



Born in Marseille to Toussaint Frédéric Terraire and Victorine Terraire (née Ladoux). 


Lived in Marseille.

Trained under Louis Guy (1824-1888).

C. 1878

Travelled to India with a Theatre troupe.


Married Marie Albertine Cnudde, a lyrical artist.


Received an honourable mention at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris.


Awarded a medal at the Salon de Lyon.


Awarded a medal at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris.


Lived in Lyon.


Reviewed in ‘Le Courrier de Saône-et-Loire’.

“In the glorious galaxy of Lyon landscape painters, Clovis Terraire has, for twenty-five years, been able to carve out a special place for himself. We could even say that as an animal painter, he is currently the best representative of the Lyonnaise school. His work is distinguished by incomparable qualities of composition, by the vigour and charm of colouring, by a constant concern to faithfully interpret nature.

Member of the Society of French Artists, Clovis Terraire has exhibited regularly for nearly twenty years in Paris, where he was a medalist in 1908. Holder in Lyon of the medal of honour and member of the jury of the Société Lyonnaise des Beaux-Arts, he never stopped producing, resting from one success to another success.

The nomenclature of his main works alone would require a long article. We will content ourselves with citing among the great paintings of the one we call today the Troyon Lyonnais: ‘Marais en Dauphiné’, mentioned at the 1905 Salon of French Artists; the ‘Evening at the Water’s Edge’, which won a medal in Paris, then the ‘Descent of the Herds into the Mountain’, a vast composition of beautiful harmony which was very noticed at the Salon des Artistes Français in 1913. One of Terraire's beautiful works, a superb panel representing La Meije in all its splendour, adorns the new Brotteaux station in Lyon. 

The exhibition offered to the Chalonnais public includes a set of remarkable canvases all marked by the robust and beautiful talent of Clovis Terraire. The public will spend a pleasant hour visiting it.”


Reviewed in ‘La Revue des Beaux-Arts'.

“Malaval Gallery. Terrain Exhibition. 

This gallery, which has just taken advantage of the summer lull to rejuvenate and modernise its exhibition room which it has at the same time enlarged by half, presents us today, after the landscapes of the Lorraine painter Grosjean, a beautiful series of paintings by the master Clovis Terraire.

There is an interesting collection of unpublished works by the great landscape and animal artist. There we notice beautiful landscapes of Savoy, charming corners of Hautecombe that Lamartine sang about in his youth. And we cannot admire these powerful pages without evoking the memory of the author of ‘Raphaël’. Besides, isn't Clovis Terraire doubly an artist? The people of Lyon know the composer well, from whom the excellent landscaper duplicates his colourful palette vibrating in unison with his lyre. Terraire's art is very personal. There is no reminiscence, in his home, of his master Louis Guy. He is a painter from Lyon but who has kept the taste for the colour of his native country (because Terraire is from Marseille) as he has preserved the delicious accent. 

Désiré Franc.”

Reviewed in ‘La Revue des Beaux-Arts’.

“It is at the Galerie Georges Petit an exhibition of the works of Clovis Terraire which brings together around fifty landscapes of Savoie, Dauphiné and Provence. Most often Clovis Terraire knows how to be decorative in the choice of his layouts; and, always, his quick and lively touch knows how to give the atmosphere its subtle vibrations. In his paintings of Lac du Bourget especially, he knew how to distribute shadow and light with emotion; the joy that the artist feels in front of the grandiose or familiar landscapes of Dauphiné and Savoie is transcribed with so much sincerity and truth that the viewer is touched in turn. 

Furthermore, let us note that Clovis Terraire, in most of his landscapes, places people or animals and that this predilection for movement gives a particular life to his painting.

Edward de Lincel.”


Reviewed in ‘Art and Photo’.

“Terraire Exhibition.

The Lyon painter Clovis Terraire previously presented at Livet, rue Georges-Teissier, Saint-Etienne, around thirty landscapes of the Alps, Dauphiné and the two Savoies. We particularly noticed its Pastures of the Hauts-Plateaux, its banks of Lake Bourget and the view of Mont-Blanc, view of Brévent. Terraire exposed picturesque corners such as the Aiguilles de Varens, the Col de Voza, the Arve Valley and the Hautecombe Abbey surrounded by the marvellous decor sung by Lamartine in these beautiful pages of the twentieth year, which he entitled ‘Raphaël’.

Terraire is well known to the people of Stéphane, who admire its landscapes animated by firmly encamped animals every year at the Salon des Arts du Forez. His broad and colourful touch is perfectly assimilated to the sumptuous landscapes he describes, preferably choosing motifs with a slightly high horizon line to better convey the majesty and grandeur of our Alpine panoramas. A standout at the Salon de Lyon and medalist at the Artistes Français, Clovis Terraire is no less modest and, like those who know a lot, an artist lenient towards his colleagues. This exhibition allowed art lovers to judge the flexibility and power of this painter in all his diversity. The studies of landscape, animals and the effects of snow with such delicate values ​​that he presented to us reveal the always renewed effort of the great landscaper and largely justify the success acquired by the artist during his great career.”


Awarded the Prix Rosa-Bonheur at the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris.


Died in Lyon.


Le Tout Lyon

“Clovis Terraire, painter and musician, died on April 2, in his 72nd year according to civil status, but much younger than that if we look at his happy character. Although he had come to Lyon very young, he had retained the picturesque southern accent, which gave a special flavour to his remarks, generally imbued with the happiest optimism and, something rare, with the greatest benevolence for his colleagues in the arts.

Musician in the Grand-Théatre orchestra, playing the bassoon since 1880, he later became a professor of this instrument at the Conservatory, but the former laureate of the Marseille Conservatory also revealed himself to his friends as a remarkable pianist and he could have demonstrated his qualities as a composer with several performances for orchestra and openings of which he is the author.

Particularly enjoying the charm of Alpine landscapes, which his palette knew how to enrich with the most exact colours, said an excellent critic, he took pleasure in enlivening his canvases by introducing cows with red flanks which carry the aurora. We want to recall the expression of the poet Catulle Mendès. Was he not, moreover, the student of the great animal artist Louis Guy.

Suffering from a painful malacia which surgical intervention was unable to overcome, Clovis Terraire saw death approaching with the serenity of a wise man and it was to obey his last wishes that on the day of his funeral, his coffin, was placed in his studio, in front of his large canvases, the ‘Descente du Troupeau’, the ‘Char de Foin’. Painters, musicians, all were there to accompany him to his funeral. The Mayor of Lyon and the Director of the Conservatory joined his family in the front row. 

Leaving the Church of the Redemption, Mr. Edouard Herriot, in an improvisation as eloquent as it was moving, made a magnificent eulogy of the work of the artist, of his qualities of heart and of teaching that his life of work gives us.

In the past few months, death has cruelly struck in the ranks of the Société Lyonnaise des Beaux-Arts, after those of Pierre. Bonnaud, Philippe Audras, Vincent Crozet, Cavaroc, the name of Clovis Terraire is added to the funeral list.

Here are the happy terms with which its distinguished president, the painter J. Perrachon, expressed the emotion of artists in the face of this new blow of Destiny. I have the painful mission of bringing to my excellent friend, Clovis Terraire, the last and supreme tribute of all his comrades and all his friends. 

‘Implacable destiny continues its work by tearing away from our affection once again one of our best artists. In the name of the Société Lyonnaise des Beaux-Arts, so hard-hit, I bring our friend the supreme farewell of all his colleagues. A loyal member of our Committee, of which he was vice-president for several years, Terraire was loved by all and leaves us with unanimous regrets. Excellent heart, he only sought to please and be of service to all his comrades. Born in Marseille, November 14, 1858 Terraire, who had lived in Lyon for fifty- two years, had a very brilliant career. 

Out of competition and a member of the Jury, he obtained the medal of honour and the Grand Prize from the Société Lyonnaise des Beaux-Arts. Member of the Society of French Artists, he exhibited in Paris every year and won the silver medal in 1908 and the Rosa Bonheur Prize in 1927. 

Terraire was a fine artist and a very talented animal painter. We all know his beautiful landscapes with his animals, and his remarkable compositions: The Descent of the Herd, Le Crépuscule sur l’Etang, Le Lac d’Aiguebelette, to name just a few, were true masterpieces.

An artist at heart, he was also an excellent musician and composer. Bassoon professor at the Conservatory, he was part of the orchestra of the Grand-Théâtre for more than forty years. Let us mourn the man of heart who is disappearing. Let us mourn, my dear Colleagues, the good artist who is leaving. I bow before the coffin of our friend Clovis Terraire and I salute his memory. To his dear wife, to his sister. beloved son, to his family and to his students, I offer the expression of our deep sympathy and our sincere condolences.

Clovis Terraire rests in the cemetery of Feyzin. His name is now included in the list of Lyon painters worthy of memory.

Paul Duvivier.”

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