Bonnet-Mel Gallery

Fresh water landscapes

The banks of the river Lez have long inspired painters and artists.

"The picturesque position of Castelnau offers many viewpoints for artists. The church, from all angles, its surroundings, the banks of the Lez, the old windmill, the roads, etc...promise the painter an ample collection, pleasant to gather", wrote early-on the painter and watercolorist Jean-Marie Amelin (1785-1858) in the 'Traveller's Guide to the Herault department', in 1827.

A century later another painter, Camille Descossy, who was one of the founders of the 'Frédéric Bazille Group', also mentioned the presence of Jean-Baptiste Corot on the Lez riverbanks during his visit to the south of France in 1836, added humorously that clearly, given the absence of drawings on the subject, the famous landscape artist preferred the spot!

The series of six drawings shown in the Bonnet-Mel gallery is a remarkable example of the early interest shown by artists for this river which flows through Montpellier.

They were bequeathed by François-Xavier Fabre in 1837. They reveal the contemporary desire to represent landscapes observed from real life whilst respecting a carefully harmonious classical composition.

The painter Eugène Castelnau (Montpellier, 1827-1894), brother of the republican deputy Albert Castelnau and distant cousin of Frédéric Bazille, favoured a more modern approach using large and dense pencil strokes to depict the Vidourle, a neighbouring river. Gustave Courbet also featured this river in 'The Ambrussum Bridge' (1857).

Voyage along the river Lez with the drawings displayed in the Bruyas gallery . They are remarkable examples of early interest shown by artists for this river which flows through Montpellier.