This painting depicts Abbeville, a city in northern France famous for its canals and architecture. It lies near the seaport of Boulogne-sur-Mer, Cazin’s hometown and where he spent the last decades of his life painting the countryside, beaches, and nearby towns. Cazin specialized in landscapes, often influenced by his knowledge of English and Dutch painters. The title, Midnight, and the image itself suggest silence and stillness—Cazin’s hallmarks—but only rarely did he attain this almost surrealistic atmosphere. Cazin was educated in Paris at the famous Ecole Gratuite de Dessins (Free School of Drawing), an innovative and unorthodox institution teaching drawing from memory. He studied there with fellow artists Henri Fantin-Latour (1836–1904), Auguste Rodin (1840–1917), and Alphonse Legros (1837–1911). They all shared an interest in Symbolism—the movement that sees symbols in reality and perceives reality through symbols.
(Text courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art)