François Bocion spent most of his life by Lake Geneva, exploring its shoreline in both Switzerland and France. Many works painted in Yvoire, Évian and Meillerie indicate that he regularly worked in Haute-Savoie.
The 1885 painting Lac et pêcheurs dates from the period when Bocion was gradually moving away from depictions of the people who worked and spent their leisure time on the lake in favour of landscapes. This beach is thought to be in Tourronde, a small fishing port near Évian. The tentative attribution is underpinned by the mountains in the background, their peaks peeping out of fog and clouds, and by archival sources.
The wide canvas and framing offer a sweeping view of the lake and the sky. Behind the viewer lie the village of Tourronde and the château de Blonay. The boats, fishermen, and nets drying in the sun bring a picturesque touch of life to the landscape, but the artist’s focus is clearly on the sunny day and the soft light dappling the lake shore, smoothing sharp contrasts and harsh shadow lines. The reflections on the water are dabbed on with delicate horizontal brush strokes, revealing here and there the preparatory sketch and even the canvas beneath. On the shore, the brushwork is faster and thicker, contrasting with the finesse of the mountains, clouds, and sky.
The approach to nature, the freshness and harmony of the palette, the handling of light and the freedom of the brushwork are reminiscent of Camille Corot, an artist Bocion admired greatly his whole life long.
Dominique Radrizzani (ed.), François Bocion. Au seuil de l’impressionnisme, exh. cat. Vevey, Musée Jenisch, Milan, 5 Continents Éditions, 2006.
Michel Reymondin, Catalogue raisonné de François Bocion, Wormer, Inmerc, 1989: n. 226.