Christian Nepo, Clearing Storm
When we were approached by one of our favorite designers recently to commission Christian Nepo to do a large painting for a clients’ family room in Florida, we were a little reluctant at first. After all, Monsieur Nepo is known for his miniature, delicate little jewels, and we weren’t certain that his refined work would translate to what the designer, Mallory Mathison, had in mind. And since a brush with disaster, several years ago (read on…), we realized that asking Nepo for big paintings, when he is used to painting small, might not be a wise move.
One of the new “big” works! Christian Nepo, St. Tropez, oil on canvas, 48 x 33”
But we tossed it out to him, and waited patiently to see what would transpire. Imagine our surprise when we received not one but three marvelous, large paintings that not only completely fulfilled the clients’ needs but also apparently liberated Monsieur Nepo into a new found freedom that he’d forgotten about.
Christian Nepo, Houlgate, oil on canvas, 48 x 33” (another larger work- breathtaking in person!)
He thanked us for the commission and the direction which got him back to painting big again. He even told us that thanks to this commission, he was undertaking a whole new series of paintings for an exhibit in his native France, and giving us a few of the best ones (at least we think so!) for our upcoming Bastille Day Show.
Beached in Brittany
We’ve been working with Christian Nepo for many years, and it wasn’t the first time he surprised us. Christian’s wife, Bernadette, still pulls out the tattered and worn little scrap of paper she wrote on the day that I first discovered his work, in France, nine years ago. I remember being so excited that an artist could capture the romantic feel of one of my favorite artists, the pre-Impressionist Eugene Boudin.
Eugene Boudin, Vue du Basin de Trouville, oil on canvas, 12.75 x 18”
I loved the cloudy skies with just a hint of blue peeking through, the glint of light, the soft figures in their timeless dresses, and the striped cabanas on the beach. I loved the little figure in red who hides in most of his paintings (Where’s Nepo?!), and the romantic old worldliness of his compositions.
I especially loved the delicate brushstrokes, painted with the confidence of a fourth generation artist. I was so excited that I promised Bernadette that if I could have a series from this artist, I would sell all of them. Such chutzpah! No wonder she took careful notes on everything I had to say.
I worked very successfully with Nepo for several years, before we opened the gallery, and sold dozens of his paintings from my house. I knew I was on to something the day that another gallery owner who specialized in very high end (and absolutely exquisite) 18th and 19th century paintings bought four Nepo gouaches for their private collection.
Another lovely gouache of a colorful group around a table.
The artist continued to paint beautiful, moody, beach scenes inspired by his childhood memories of Normandy. I was thrilled with the beauty of his paintings and this artist’s obvious talent. He was thrilled with his new best friend from Atlanta who bought and sold his entire collection.
And then disaster struck… (stay tuned for….“He’s So Good, Part II”).