Charles Cobelle (German / French / American, 1902 – 1994) was an artist whose style developed from his more well-known contemporaries, but ultimately made Cobelle a popular artist for many in the United States. His work is found in galleries like the Huntington in California, and exhibits of his work are found across the United States. Born in 1902 in Alsace-Lorraine, he moved to Paris to pursue his art career. The Parisian art movement of Fauvism, with its use of expressive colors and exaggerated outlines, influenced Cobelle greatly. Soon, Cobelle was working with two major French artists of the early 20th century who, like Cobelle, were connected with Fauvism: Marc Chagall (Russian / French, 1887 – 1985) and Raoul Dufy (French, 1877 – 1953).

Cobelle’s Fauvism

When looking at Charles Cobelle’s artwork, the effect of Fauvist art, and Chagall and Dufy especially, is clear. Cobelle favored thick lines, simplified figures, and (most importantly) blocks of bright color in his compositions. Chagall and Dufy became renowned for this style of art, and Cobelle certainly built on the ideas of his older contemporaries. Cobelle’s artwork often shows scenes from Paris and its surroundings in France; street scenes and scenes at famous monuments are the most usual.

Charles Cobelle Lithograph of Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
Charles Cobelle, "Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris". Mid 20th century. Lithograph on paper.

Cobelle’s Scenes

As Fauvism had developed in Paris, the style is historically associated with the city and France at large. Cobelle, as an artist working in that style, took advantage of that association to make his art popular with the public. Especially once Cobelle moved to the United States, his style and choice of subject attracted attention. He painted numerous murals and was a successful painter and printmaker in the U.S.

Charles Cobelle Lithograph of French Horse Race
Charles Cobelle, "French Horse Race". Mid 20th century. Lithograph on paper.

Nest Egg Auctions has sold multiple works by Charles Cobelle. One painting, a gouache on paper depicting a street in Paris, is an excellent example of Cobelle’s style. The street, lined with shops and trees, is dotted with various people walking about. A car and a horse-drawn carriage sit in the street. Rather than capturing this scene naturalistically, Cobelle builds his scene mainly out of black outlines. Colorful blocks of color show the blooming of flowers, the fancy fashion of passers-by, and the vibrant facades of the buildings along the road. 

Nest Egg Auctions has likewise sold two lithographic prints, which also depict Parisian scenes. These show the same Fauvist approach. It is this alchemy of image-making, being both easily comprehensible and somewhat abstracted, that makes Cobelle’s art so attractive and popular with the American public.

Charles Cobelle Paris Street Scene Painting
Charles Cobelle, "Paris Street Scene". Mid 20th century. Gouache on Paper.

Cobelle and Connecticut

Charles Cobelle moved to the United States in the late 1920s. He first lived in Westport and later moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut. This has made the art of Charles Cobelle very popular in Connecticut in particular. Thus, Cobelle is, in many ways, Connecticut’s own Fauvist. This is part of the reason why Nest Egg Auction enjoys working with the artwork of Cobelle: he is part of the artistic heritage of our beloved home state of Connecticut. If you have a painting or print by Charles Cobelle, we would love to see it, and talk to you more about it!