Albert Marquet was born in Bordeaux in 1875, the son of a railway employee. He went to Paris to study at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs at the age of fifteen. Six years later he joined the studio of Gustave Moreau, where he met and forged lasting friendships with Camoin, Rouault, Manguin and Matisse. During this period Marquet began to use the vibrant colours and bold brushwork that is characteristic of the Fauves with whom he was closely associated. He exhibited at Berthe Weill and the Galerie Druet, Paris from 1902 and from 1903 at the Salon d’Automne.
After 1907 Marquet’s interest in Japonisme resulted in more sober works. He travelled extensively, frequently leaving his apartment on the banks of the Seine to visit England, Germany, Italy, the USSR, Scandinavia and North Africa, where he spent the years of the Second World War. He met his wife Marcelle Martinet, whom he married in 1923, on his first stay in Algiers in 1920.
The most profound influence on his work is that of the Impressionists, most notably Paul Cézanne. Like the Impressionists his favourite subjects were port scenes, beaches, quaysides, river views and coastal villages; he was particularly fascinated by the effect of light on water.
André Rouveyre, a fellow student in Gustave Moreau’s atelier, wrote: ‘Marquet reigns over the kingdom of light. The light that shines on the things of this world, of course, but also that which belongs to his pictures alone: a strangely regal quality that comes from his sensitivity and wisdom. Skies, hills, houses, streets all bathe in his subtle but intense lights’.