This early 20th-century watercolour by British artist Hector Caffieri (1847-1932) depicts several fisherfolk hauling a boat to shore at Boulogne, France.
Amid gentle shimmering waters, a group of hardy women tug on thick ropes attached to a stubborn fishing vessel. Caffieri captures the figures exquisitely - a master draughtsman. Each rendered with a few deft marks to describe their efforts. Above, the cliff’s rocky surface appears akin to a continuum of golden sands rising towards barely perceptible cottages in pastel tints.
Boulogne was the artist’s escape from the rigours of British cities. He adored the French coast and eventually moved here following stays in Cheltenham and London. His father, a successful wine merchant of French descent, ran a shop in Cheltenham’s illustrious Montpellier district but also headed for warmer climes in his later years.
Caffieri’s sun-drenched waterfront views were exhibited at the Royal Academy but also in France at prestigious Salons. They were received favourably on both sides of the Channel with one critic explaining:
“For some years past, this artist has made Boulogne his home, and judging by the view he gives us, taken from his studio door, his line is cast in pleasant places.”
In 1900, a reporter noted that HRH the Princess of Wales had loaned one of Caffieri’s drawings to an exhibition at the Continental Gallery.
“He has a sure eye for the popularly attractive, and almost any one of his drawings taken at random would elicit the exclamation ‘Oh, how pretty!’. There are presentments of the flower and fruit markets at Boulogne, the picturesque harbour, the busy quay, the shore in summertime dotted with bathers and children paddling. One drawing … is lent by HRH, the Princess of Wales.”
Signed lower right and held in a later frame and glazed.
Medium: Watercolour on paper
Overall size: 17½” x 25½” / 45cm x 57cm
Year of creation: c. 1900
Labels & Inscriptions: Title label on reverse.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Frame with some light wear.
Artist’s auction maximum: £26,000
Hector Caffieri trained in Paris under Gustave Boulanger and later at the Académie Julian under Léon Bonnat and Jules Lefebvre. He exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Society of British Artists where he later became a member. He was also elected to the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Société des Beaux-Arts et des Arts Décoratifs du Boulonnais. His works are held in numerous public collections including at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Royal Cornwall Museum and Fylde Council Town Hall.
Learn more about Hector Caffieri in our directory.