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Henri-Alexandre Sollier (1896-1966)
was born in Bagnolet, on the outskirts of Paris in 1886.
Sollier enrolled at the Académie Julian in 1906 and later graduated to the École des Beaux-Arts in 1908. He worked in the ateliers of François Flameng and later at François Schommer. In the spring of 1919 he celebrated the victory of the Allies with two eloquently titled paintings, ‘Pour elle’ and ‘Par elle’ which he exhibited at the Devambez Gallery in Paris. After the First World War, Sollier enjoyed a rewarding decade of prestigious awards, enabling him to undertake extensive travels.
In 1920 his first participation at the Salon des Artistes Français achieved a Mention Honorable, together with the Académie des Beaux-Arts Prix Leclercq-Maria Bouland. The following year the Prix de l’Afrique Occidentale Française brought him a travel grant. Sollier ventured off to West Africa, where he spent three years in Senegal, sending portraits of indigenous people to the Pavillon de Marsan and the Salon des Artistes Français.
Years later Sollier took part in the first Salon de la France d’Outre-Mer and a group show organised in Brussels by the Société Coloniale des Artistes Français. In 1929 Sollier discovered the natural beauty of Brittany after a short stay in Douarnenez, Finistère. The landscapes and deeply traditional people of Brittany offered a different kind of exoticism from his African adventure.
Sollier’s trips to Brittany in the early 1930s are noteworthy for the delicacy of their unusual pastel effects. From Sainte-Marine, Sollier pushed on to Cornouaille, stopping at Pont-l’Abbé, Loctudy, Lesconil and Penmarc’h. In 1935 Sollier went north to Camaret-sur-Mer, a small fishing port on the Crozon peninsula. The place had been popular with painters ever since Eugène Boudin’s repeated visits between 1874 and 1880.
Finistère was Sollier’s favourite part of Brittany, but he also spent time in the Morbihan and along the Côtes d’Armor. There he painted scenes of everyday life, which he exhibited regularly at the Salon des Artistes Français. This longstanding fidelity was rewarded by the success of his Brittany paintings both with the public and with the judges at the Salon, who awarded him a gold medal at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques in 1937. That same year Sollier was made a committee and jury member of the Salon des Artistes Français, a distinction to match the degree of his public and official recognition.
During the 1940s, Sollier continued to paint landscapes from the Seine-et-Marne, Burgundy and the village of Murols in Auvergne, which had witnessed numerous landscape artists such as Théodore Rousseau and Victor Charreton. Sollier maintained an active and successful career painting landscapes through the fifties and sixties until his death in 1966.
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