Jean-Baptiste Joseph Olive

Jean-Baptiste Joseph Olive

Biography of Jean-Baptiste Joseph Olive ( 1848-1936 )

Born in a modest wineseller family, Jean-Baptiste Olive studied under the supervision of Antoine Vollon and Gustave Marius Jullien. He also worked with the decorator Etienne Cornelier in Marseille. The two were very close and worked together on decors for cafés, that have now disappeared. Cornelier encouraged him to enter the School of Beaux-Arts, where he studied in the drawing studio of Johanny Rave. Although he already had some clients in Marseille, Olive settled in Paris in 1874. That same year, he began exhibiting at the Salon of Paris.

As soon as 1875, General Malesherbes, who was a great admirer of the painter, bought him the canvas he had exhibited. Olive received a mention honourable in 1882, a third class medal in 1885, a second class medal in 1886, and a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1889. From 1888 to 1892, the State bought him numerous paintings. Olive was a member of the Salon des Artistes Français since its foundation in 1881. He was nominated Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur in 1918, then promoted Officer in 1923. In 1930, he was nominated « Hors-Concours member », received the Prix Bonnat, and became a member of the jury and the committee.

Olive was mostly the painter of Provence and the Mediterranean coasts and harbours, particularly Marseille. The richness and smoothness of his painting technique endows his works with a luminous intensity, making the boats he so distinctively painted stand out against the azure sky. He also travelled to Italy from 1874 and painted many views of Genoa and Venice. His palette got lighter with time, and his immoderate care for details that he had inherited from his very technical training gave way to the expression of colour.

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