Born in Vergèze in January 1891, he graduated from the École Municipale des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes in 1910, and in 1912 went to Paris on a national scholarship to further his talent as a painter and decorative artist, a talent that would come to be especially active and appreciated in the field of decorative arts. His first-known works date from the start of the 1920s. Fontayne expressed an early fondness for detailed drawing, particularly evident in his still lifes. The artist simply and directly arranges the elements against a uniform background. The same economy of means is also seen in his early landscapes, which suggest a figurative Cubism like that taught by André Lothe in his academy.
Artistic career began to take off during the fertile period between the two world wars