Cals was a French portrait, genre, and landscape painter. It was not until he was older that he reached a high level of success. He became critically acclaimed at the 1846 Salon, despite receiving no formal award. His most productive years ended up being the last ten of his life. He exhibited multiple pieces at the 1868, 1869 and 1870 Salons. In 1863, Cals exhibited at the “Salon des Refusés”, alongside works by Monet, Degas and Pissarro.
Influenced by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot and Johan Barthold Jongkind, he worked in more subdued, less fawn-coloured tones, more closely matching the Impressionists without adopting the “purple-violet which some painters are flooding their paintings with”—as Victor Jannesson remarked in his book on Cals. A friend of Jongkind, he regularly visited the “Saint-Simeon Farm”, an inn in Honfleur, famous as a meeting place for artists and writers, such as Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin and Baudelaire, as well as Jongkind himself.
Having settled, with his daughter, in Honfleur during the last decade of his life, Cals painted the harbor, the sea and its associated human life. At the invitation of Monet, he participated in the first Impressionist exhibition in 1874 and 1876, until 1881.
– Private collection, the Netherlands