Pont Aven

IMG_0760Pont Aven is a small community in southern Finistère, Brittany. It sprang from its independence from neighboring parishes of Riec and Nizon around 1790, but has been affiliated to the municipality of Nizon since 1954. Its name derives from its location at the edge of the Aven River, which is divided between right bank and left bank, connected by a stone bridge and flanked by several mills and lavoirs.

In the 19th century port activities ensured the economic growth of the town. Pont-Aven became one of the most important ports of Cornouaille, lying on a dock extending over than one hundred meters. Ships carryied wood, salt, granite, grains, from Brest to St Jean de Luz via Groix.

The railway line was created in 1863 connecting Pont-Aven to Quimper and Concarneau, now ensuring the trade of commodities more by rail than on the water.

Furthermore mobility was facilitated : Bretons, Parisians and foreigners come to visit Pont-Aven.The most faithful visitors werethe artists.They quickly formed a young and vibrant colony. The prosperous village came to be known as the “City of painters”, among them, a contingent from the region, the group from the School of Pont-Aven of course, and many Americans who traveled to Pont-Aven, the first being Henry Bacon in 1864. Other painters would soon follow suit, including Robert Wylie and Charles Way. They lodged at the Gloanec pension or « Les Voyageurs » hotel run by by “good hostess” Julia Guillou. Painters roamed the countryside and were inspired by one evocative site at the outskirts of the village: the Bois d’Amour or wood of Love, a series of groves on the edge of the Aven. The site became a promenade, a meeting place, a hive of pictorial activities. It offered the perfect spot to observe the variations of light, and to study color .

Since the late 19th century, many artists have continued the tradition and art galleries have flourished, such as Gallery Izart,home to Bruno Tremohars, a contemporary artist influenced by the School of Pont-Aven.