Othon Friesz

Etretat – The Artists – Friesz, Othon

This page forms part of a series of pages dedicated to the many artists who worked in Etretat. A full list of all the artists with a link to their works can be found at the bottom of this page.

Othon Friesz
Othon Friesz

Movement(s): FauvismPost Impressionism

Othon Friesz was a French painter who was born in Le Havre (the son of a long line of shipbuilders and sea captains) where he went to school with Raoul Dufy who became a lifelong close friend. They both went to the same school in Le Havre, and later they went together to Paris for art school.

Othon Friesz, full name Achille-Emile Othon Friesz (1879 – 1949), was born in Le Havre, the son of a long line of shipbuilders and sea captains. He went to school in his native city. It was while he was at the Lycée that he met his lifelong friends Raoul Dufy, Rene de Saint-Delis and Rene’s younger brother, Henri Saint-Delis.

He, Rene, Henri and Dufy studied at the Le Havre School of Fine Arts in 1895-96 and then went to Paris together for further study. In Paris, Friesz met Henri Matisse, Albert Marquet, and Georges Rouault. Like them, he rebelled against the academic teaching of Bonnat and became a member of the Fauves, exhibiting with them in 1907. The following year, Friesz returned to Normandy and to a much more traditional style of painting, since he had discovered that his personal goals in painting were firmly rooted in the past.

He opened his own studio in 1912 and taught until 1914 at which time he joined the army for the duration of the war. He resumed living in Paris in 1919 and remained there, except for brief trips to Toulon and the Jura Mountains, until his death in 1949.

His paintings followed the Post-Impressionism and Fauvism movements.

Click here to read Friesz’s full bio on Wikipedia.

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NOTE: A black box like this one, means that there is an explanation text about today’s situation of the painting above it.
NOTE: Click on this photo icon anywhere below a painting to see a photo of what the area looks like today.

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1901 - Othon Friesz - The cliffs of Etretat
1901 – Othon Friesz – The cliffs of Etretat

TODAY: The Porte d’Aval is the most visible of three sea arches at Etretat. It lies to the left of the Etretat beach.

1921 - Othon Friesz - The elephant at Etretat
1921 – Othon Friesz – The elephant at Etretat

NOTE: The reference to an “elephant” was a misunderstanding to many, including Othon. It was a reference by the French writer Guy de Maupassant in a book published in 1883. Many people thought he meant the Etretat Porte d’Aval arch, but in reality he was looking at the porte d’Amont arch further up.

Click on photo https://travelfrance.tips/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/photo.png below to see the Porte d’Amont:

???? - Othon Friesz - Swimming at Etretat
???? – Othon Friesz – Swimming at Etretat

Here are the several places in France where Othon Friesz painted in (a link “” to his works in those cities will appear below when published):

Etretat is the second most popular and visited place in Normandy (the first being Mont Saint-Michel). And since it was popular, many artists came here to be inspired by its nature and scenic environments. Here is a list of artists who worked in Etretat (a link “⇠” to their work will appear when published).

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Today: Porte d'Aval seen from the beach
Today: Porte d’Aval seen from the beach
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Today: Porte d'Amont seen from the beach
Today: Porte d’Amont seen from the beach
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