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Caroline Boyle-Turner

French village on the Aven River in Brittany, 260 km west of Paris and 7 km north of the Bay of Biscay. Before the 20th century its protected tidal harbour made it a busy commercial port for the transport of flour, firewood, blocks of quarried granite, sand, and fish. Though it attracted artists from the 1860s onwards, it is most famous for the colony of artists that gathered there around Paul Gauguin (see fig.) in the late 1880s and early 1890s. A French artist, Eugène Martin, spent some time in Pont-Aven in the 1850s making drawings that were later turned into prints. According to Emile Bernard, the first artist to paint in Pont-Aven was the Dutchman Herman van den Anker (1832–83). His Salon paintings in the 1860s faithfully depict the costumes and customs of Breton peasants, whose clothes point precisely to Pont-Aven as their village of origin. In ...