Jongkind was born in 1819 to a family of modest means. He left home at an early age, for there was little place for an artistic temperament in the crowd of ten children.
In 1837 Jongkind took private lessons with Andréas Schelfhout; it was here that he first encountered his passion for painting in the open air.
In 1843-1844 luck came his way - he was awarded 200 florins by the lottery for "the pursuit of his painting" and in 1845 he made the acquaintance of the French painter Eugène Isabey.
|Sailing boat against the setting sun
Pen and ink drawing
His meeting with Isabey marked Jongkind profoundly, and he began to dream of joining Eugène in his Parisian studio. In 1846 his dream came true. Life was hard in the French capital however, and Jongkind lived frugally. After nine difficult years he was forced to return to his native Netherlands.
Jongkind continued for the next five years to devote himself to his painting, but his efforts met with no recognition from his countrymen. His morale, and his living conditions, deteriorated steadily.
|Skaters near Rotterdam, oil, 1868
When Jongkind had first arrived in Paris to work with Eugène Isabey he discovered the river Seine - a new source of inspiration for his already mature range of sea - and waterscapes.
|Self-portrait under the sun, or The man in a straw hat
Graphite and watercolour, 1850-1860
In the nine lean and difficult years he spent in Paris he had led a bohemian existence. The 1855 World Exhibition was a disappointment, with no reward forthcoming for the three works he had entered for exhibition. His return to Holland was with feelings of dejection and betrayal.
|At the "Roi du désert", etching, 1855
By 1860 however, under the weight of his debts and the solitude he experienced in his own country, he resolved to return to Paris. And on this second visit he met Joséphine Fesser
, another painter from the Netherlands. She was to become his guardian angel and companion for life, bringing greater stability and balance to his life. His paintings gained in popularity and Jongkind's reputation grew. His personality blossomed, and the number of commissions rose.
|Boulevard de l'hôpital, Paris, watercolour, 28 May 1868
Every summer Jongkind would leave the city for the country landscapes of the Dauphiné region in south-east France. By autumn however he would be back again, faithful to Paris and his studio. By the late 1870s, however, his health was such that he would prolong his periods in the Dauphiné hills, and it was there that he was finally to be buried. There was always a place for Paris, however, both on his canvas and in his heart.
|Saint-Séverin church, Paris
Oil on board, 8 May 1878
Jongkind discovered Normandy in 1850 when he decided to leave Paris with Eugène Isabey, who regularly spent the summer months painting boating scenes on the Channel coast. Jongkind painted the Normandy ports and was particularly fond of Harfleur.
|Harfleur port, oil, 1850
In 1862 he returned to Normandy, spending time at Le Havre and Saint-Adresse with Joséphine Fesser. The following year however he settled in Honfleur, which he chose to make his home for his Normandy visits. From then on, the port, its lighthouse and wooden jetty were recurring themes in the high number of works he produced.
|Dutch skaters, with a mill on the left, oil, 1865
By 1865 Jongkind's art was in great demand. From his Honfleur studio he produced a line of Normandy landscapes and Dutch canals: "It's becoming quite a factory" he was heard to comment. But he was also "content, financially speaking".
|Jongkind by Philippe Solari
In August 1861 Joséphine Fesser, who had helped Jongkind settle in Paris, suggested that the painter accompany her south to Nevers, in the centre of France.
She was to visit her husband Alexandre, who was employed as a chef in a chateau near the town.
Once again Jongkind discovered a new landscape for his art. After the low horizons of Holland and the Parisian basin he was fascinated by the hills and valleys of the region. He explored them all with a friend of the Fessers, a gamekeeper with whom he had taken lodgings, with Joséphine, in Saint-Parize-le-Chatel. His paintings from now on portray numerous farming scenes: the local livestock, teams in harness or shepherdess spinning her wool belong to the leit-motifs in the watercolours of this period.
The short summer visit of 1861 was not to be repeated however until his return to Nevers in 1870. With the outbreak of war in 1870 Jongkind left Paris for Nantes, where he was briefly detained on suspicion of spying. He then moved on to Nevers, where he applied to the Prefect for a residence permit. He spent the next two years between the capital and Nevers, where he stayed in the same residence as Alexandre Fesser.
In 1872 Jongkind's health worsened. He decided to spend more of his time in the country, together with Alexandre Fesser who was now settled near Nevers. A year later however Jongkind discovered the Dauphiné region at the foot of the French Alps, when visiting Fesser's son Jules at the chateau of Pupetières in 1873. His visits to Nevers became rarer and when Alexandre Fesser died in 1875 Jongkind abandoned Nevers, prefering to divide his time between Paris and the Dauphiné.
It is true that Joséphine Fesser had a great influence on Jongkind's choice of subject.
It was Joséphine who brought Jongkind to the Dauphiné, for the couple made frequent visits to the north of the region, visiting Alexandre, who, before his death had found a post in the chateau of Virieu in the Dauphiné's Bourbre valley.
|The château of Virieu, oil on board, September 1877
|Châbons, watercolour and pierre noire pencil, 24 September 1876
|La Côte-Saint-André seen from the Bièvre plain, watercolour, 8 August 1882
Jules Fesser eventually took over from his father as chef in the chateau and in 1878 he bought a house in the nearby town of La Côte-Saint-André.
|Place Saint André in La Côte-Saint-André, oil, 1877
Jongkind started to spend more and more time in the region, appreciating its calm and its beauty.
|Summer landscape in the Dauphiné, watercolour, 7 August 1882
He had finally left behind him the years of feverish production and excess.
It was now time to look after his health. The landscapes he so appreciated and the hospitality he was offered in the region ensured that his final years were both peaceful and particularly productive.
And this comes out in his art, for Jongkind's canvases of this period are a vibrant record of the artist's final view of the world.
|Winter in the Dauphiné, watercolour, 1880
|Hill at La Côte-Saint-André, oil, 1882
Jongkind lived to his death in or near La Côte-Saint-André. Joséphine Fesser outlived him by no more than a few months. They are both buried in the small cemetery of La Côte-Saint-André, beyond the commotion of the town.
|Balbins cemetery, oil, 1888
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 Jongkind - Bateau, voilier vu de face au soleil couchant - Pen and ink on paper - 29 x 19.5 cm - © Photograph Musée de Grenoble
 Jongkind - Patineurs aux environs de Rotterdam - Oil on canvas - 1868 - 24.5 x 32.5 cm - © Musée Faure, Aix-les-Bains
 Jongkind - Autoportrait sous le soleil ou l'homme au chapeau de paille - Graphite and watercolour on paper - 1850-1860 - 20 x 17 cm - © Photo RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
 Jongkind - Au roi du désert - Etching - 1855 - © Collection Musée dauphinois, Grenoble
 Jongkind - Le boulevard de l'hôpital à Paris - Watercolour - 28 May 1868 - © Private collection
 Jongkind - L'église Saint-Séverin, Paris - Oil on board - 8 May 1878 - 18.5 x 11.9 cm - © Musée Faure, Aix-les-Bains
 Jongkind - Port d'Harfleur - Oil on canvas - 1850 - 106,4 x 161,2 cm - © Musée de Picardie, Amiens / Marc Jeanneteau
 Jongkind - Patineurs hollandais avec moulin à gauche - Oil on canvas - 1865 - 24.5 x 35.5 cm - © Photo RMN / Hervé Lewandowski
 Philippe Solari - Buste de Jongkind - Terracotta - 1871 - © Collection Musée dauphinois, Grenoble
 Jongkind - Le château de Virieu - Oil on board - September 1877 - 16 x 27 cm - © Galerie Noortman Maastricht, Holland
 Jongkind - Châbons - Watercolour and pierre noire lead - 24 September 1876 - 22 x 48.9 cm - © Photo RMN / Thierry Le Mage
 Jongkind - Montrevel - Watercolour - Between 1873 and 1878 - 12.4 x 18.9 cm - © Photo RMN / Thierry Le Mage
 Jongkind - La Côte-Saint-André vue de la plaine de Bièvre - Watercolour on paper - 8 August 1882 - 15 x 47 cm - © Private collection
 Jongkind - La place Saint André à La Côte-Saint-André - Oil on canvas - 1877 - 22 x 36 cm - © Private collection
 Jongkind - Paysage d'été en Dauphiné - Watercolour on paper - 7 August 1882 - © Private collection
 Jongkind - Hiver en Dauphiné - Watercolour - 1880 - 16.5 x 25 cm - © Photograph Musée de Grenoble
 Jongkind - Colline à La Côte-Saint-André - Oil on canvas - 1882 - 70 x 50 cm - © Musée Faure, Aix-les-Bains
 Jongkind - Le cimetière de Balbins - Oil on canvas - 1888 - 23 x 36 cm - © Musée Faure, Aix-les-Bains