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The Dutch artist Matthijs Maris studied at the Hague Drawing Academy and at the Antwerp Academy. His brothers, Jacob and Willem, were also artists.
In 1869 Matthijs moved to Paris, where Jacob was living. Jacob returned to Holland in 1871, but Matthijs remained another six years, renting a room in Montmartre, an area particularly favoured by artists. This small picture is one of several he painted of the Montmartre Quarry on the northern edge of Paris where the city gave way to countryside. The quarry was also painted in 1886 by Van Gogh, who likewise included the windmills in the background – a feature that perhaps appealed to both Dutchmen.
Matthijs felt great loyalty to France. He joined the National Guard when the Franco-Prussian War broke out in 1870, and in 1871 he fought with the Communards. Recalling the art of Daumier, Matthijs’s identification with the city’s working people is evident here. The earthy colours and textures of the paint match the pit in which the men load their carts.
From 1877 Matthijs lived in London, where he died in 1917.
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