Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Alexis Fournier received his earliest art training as a sign painter and then as a student at the Minneapolis School of Art. The support of Twin Cities businessmen made it possible for the young artist to pursue his studies in France with the masters of the Academie Julian, which steeped him in the tradition of open-air painting associated with the Barbizon School.
Fournier worked in sets or groups of paintings from an early date. In the late 1880s he painted a series of canvases along the Mississippi River near Minneapolis. Over the next two decades he painted a collection he called “Homes and Haunts of the Barbizon Masters,” twenty canvases depicting the houses of Millet, Daubigny, and other French masters, in homage to their plein-air style. The series was exhibited in various American cities, but was dispersed to private collections.
In addition to his Minnesota connections, Fournier is also associated with the Brown County Impressionist painters of Indiana. His works in that area are frequently high-keyed in their brilliant color, with richly worked surfaces. Fournier also had a long residence in East Aurora, near Buffalo, New York, in association with Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft colony there. His landscapes are typically atmospheric views of pleasant countryside, often with idyllic traces of human occupation in the form of houses, gardens, or flocks.
Written and submitted by Thomas O’Sullivan, museum curator and freelance writer.