- 1803 - 1869
Following Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo in 1815, an energetic cross-cultural exchange between France and Britain developed. In France, many artists became fascinated with British history, topography and literature. Although Paul Huet primarily focused on his native French landscape, he was greatly influenced by British landscape painting. Anticipating the innovations of the Barbizon School as well as the Impressionists, Huet sought to capture both the specific features and emotional experience of the natural world.
Studying in the studio of Antoine-Jean Gros in the early 1820s, Huet came into contact with the talented English landscape painter Richard Parkes Bonnington. Rather than working indoors under Gros' tutelage, the pair preferred to go out into nature and paint from life. The appearance of near-identical works by the two artists suggests the depth of their artistic friendship. Huet's exposure to John Constable's ambitious landscapes, in particular The Hay Wain, at the Salon of 1824, propelled him toward a greater truth-to-nature. Like Constable, Huet also began using thick impasto to capture nature's distinct and varied textures and the effects of light. His own landscapes were accepted at the Salon of 1827 and he would exhibit there regularly for more than forty years. In addition to painting, Huet was an especially gifted watercolorist and also produced drawings, pastels, and lithographs.
By the 1830s, Huet had established himself as an innovative landscape painter. He traveled frequently, visiting Italy, England, Belgium, the Netherlands, as well as exploring his own native France. On his travels, he worked constantly, often outdoors, in a variety of media, to capture the changing seasons and weather conditions. By the 1850s, with a family to support and increasing ill health, Huet was no longer viewed as a leading landscapist. The Barbizon School painters, who also had been inspired by Constable's The Hay Wain, now overshadowed him.