The Port of La Rochelle, Low Tide

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The Port of La Rochelle, Low Tide (Albert Marquet, 1875 – 1947)The Port of La Rochelle, Low Tide (Albert Marquet, 1875 – 1947)

Albert Marquet was born into poverty in Bordeaux, France. He went to Paris where Henri Matisse befriended him and introduced him to members of the Fauvist movement. They were roommates while he studied at the School of Decorative Arts under symbolic artist Gustav Moreau. It must have been wonderful to share time with that great genius.

From early on, light and colour fascinated Marquet. He became an artistic tramp as he travelled across Africa and Europe in search of it. He stayed with painter friends he met, until he suddenly became bored and moved on as unexpectedly as he had arrived. He never married, he never had a steady job and he never accumulated wealth. Does this mean he was a failure?

After he died of cancer critics wrote him off as a minor, unimportant painter. I am inclined to think the opposite. The uncompromising simplicity of this picture is as remarkable as the panels of colour that are the sails of the two boats.  The English painter John McLean said of him ‘his feeling for colour, the lightness or darkness and saturation of it, its weight, is nothing less than astounding’. Albert Marquet was no failure, just a happy, carefree, creative prodigy.

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