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 Gaston La Touche  (1854 - 1913)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: garden landscape, figure and portrait painting, murals

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Biography from South Coast Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born at St Cloud, near Paris, on the 29th October 1854, Gaston La Touche showed an early vocation for an artistic career.  From the age of about ten years, he spent every available moment of recreation in drawing, and finally managed to obtain permission from his parents to take lessons from a M. Paul, who quickly discovered his natural aptitude and encouraged the young boy to persevere with his studies.

Interrupted by the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the lessons ceased when the family fled to Normandy.  La Touche never received any further formal training, but he came under the influence of two older painters, one of whom in particular was to have a profound and far-reaching effect on the development of European painting. The two were Félix Bracquemond and Edouard Manet.

After the Paris Commune and the war, Manet, Degas and a group of painters, critics, poets and authors used to gather regularly at the Café de la Nouvelle-Athènes (c 1877-79) to discuss art and other topical matters.  La Touche also frequented this cafe where those he met included the realist writer Emile Zola; Duranty, a critic, and Theodore Duret, a politician, collector and champion of the Impressionists.

La Touche was not directly influenced by Manet’s style; rather the ideas of the older man spoke to him.  Sincerity, candour, integrity and a striving after the truth were the qualities to be sought in both life and art.  During this period in his career, La Touche depicted grim scenes from the daily lives of the miners and labourers whose plight has already be brought to the notice of the general public by the social realism of Zola’s novels, such as l’Assommoir and Germinal.

After 1890, however, there was a radical shift in the subjet matter, palette and technique of La Touche’s work.  During the six years to 1896, he gradually, yet steadily evolved from realism to the idealism that was to be the hallmark of his oeuvre; the creation of a harmonious, luminous and charming world of parks and gardens, nymphs and fountains, fireworks and fetes-champetres, in which nature is depicted in terms of colour and light, yet with an element of fantasy which sets his work aside from that of the earlier Impressionist Group.

Without doubt the single most important influence on La Touche was that of Felix Bracquemond.  He was a painter, engraver, ceramicist and lithographer and was himself much influenced by Japanese art.  He and his talented wife, Marie, who exhibited twice with the Impressionists, lived not far from the La Touche property, and the latter was probably a frequent guest at their regular Sunday luncheons, when painters such as Sisley and Fantin-Latour and the critic Gustave Geffroy met at the Villa Brancas where they engaged in lively discussion, usually dominated by the fiery-tempered Bracquemond.  It was Geffroy who largely persuaded La Touche to abandon his sombre palette in favour of the spectrum of colour.  He perceived that the underlying influences of La Touche’s art were those of the French eighteenth century: Fragonard and Watteau, and encouraged him to pursue the symphonies of colour which typify his work.  It is also interesting to note that La Touche destroyed almost all the paintings he had done during his socio-realist phase; in 1891, he consigned fifteen years work to the flames of a bonfire in a single day.

La Touche’s oeuvre does not reality fall into a named category.  He attempted his own form of divisionism, but continued to experiment with feathery brush strokes, each of a different shade, which give his pictures an ethereal serenity which seems far removed from the everyday world.  This ambience carries over even into paintings of more prosaic subject matter, as though the most ordinary event or gesture is somehow transformed under his brush.  This otherworldly quality is more readily apparent in such works as Le Temple de l’Amour and Soiree d’Ete.  La Touche painted many allegorical and some mythological paintings as well as land and waterscapes, and his beloved Versailles of which he once said ‘Je n’ai qu’un seul maitre le parc de Versailles’.

In 1889 he exhibited some of his Versailles views in Paris, followed the same year by an exhibition of watercolours at the Fine Art Society in London and a favourable article in the Studio magazine by Gabriel Mourey.  The painter was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1900, and received an official commission to paint a fete at Versailles for the Elysée Palace in 1906.

La Touche exhibited regularly at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the Société des Peintres et Sculpteurs as well as at the Société de la Peinture a l’Eau which he had founded in 1906 and of which he was President.  A large show at the Galerie Georges Petit was held in 1909, and another at Boussod and Valadon in the Hague, some two months before his sudden death while working on a painting on 12th July, 1913.

Source:
http://www.gastonlatouche.com/biography.htm

Biography from Daphne Alazraki Fine Art:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Gaston La Touche, painter, watercolorist and pastelist, was born in Saint-Cloud, Paris in 1854. A self-taught artist, from childhood, he was determined to be a painter, and his well-to-do parents supported this ambition.  His earliest paintings from the 1880s were grim scenes from the daily lives of miners and laborers, perhaps a nod to the social realism of contemporaries, like writer Emile Zola. They were vigorous, harsh, and somber works that met with little success, and were subsequently destroyed by the artist.

In the late 1880s, his friend Felix Bracquemond prompted him to discard his earlier style and to use the colors favored by the Impressionists. Along with a new palette, La Touche adjusted his brushwork to small, petal-like strokes. In 1890, he showed Phlox and Peonies, both colorful scenes of women, children, and flowers, at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, bringing him immediate success. These works represented the beginning of a radical shift in his subject matter, palette, and technique. During the next six years, he gradually and steadily moved away from realism toward a greater sense of idealism, which became a hallmark of his oeuvre and set him apart from the Impressionists. He created luminous and charming works of parks, gardens, nymphs, and fetes-champetres, revealing an underlying loyalty to French artists of the eighteenth century, such as Fragonard and Watteau.

La Touche participated in shows mounted by the Societe des Artistes Francais in the 1880s and 1890s, receiving a Third Class Medal in 1884 and a Second Class Medal in 1888. In 1889, he was awarded a Bronze Medal at the l'Exposition Universelle and later received a Gold Medal at the 1900 l'Exposition Universelle. In 1900, he was decorated with the Legion d'honneur and was made an officer of the Legion in 1909. In 1908, an impressive retrospective featured over 300 of his works at the Galeries Georges Petit in Paris. In 1909, La Touche’s paintings were exhibited in another large show at Boussod and Valadon in The Hague.

At this time, La Touche was awarded several official commissions for large-scale decorative schemes at various French ministries. These large canvases and murals are characterized by glowing colors and broad brushstrokes. His most well known works remain his light-filled garden and fetes-galants paintings, all completed with his trademark delicate brushwork and beautifully vivid palette.

La Touche’s work is represented in the following European museums: Paris (Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Petit Palais, Musée de Saint-Cloud),Tourcoing, Rouen, Reims, Evreux, Flers, Alencon, La Roche sur Yon, Strasbourg, Marseilles, Versailles, Cambo, the Singer Museum (Laren), Brussels, Krefeld, Magdeburg, Prague, Genoa, Barcelona, St Petersburg and Odessa.

In the Unites States, La Touche’s work is in the collections of the the Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee, The Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio, The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, The Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, Maryland, The Dayton Art Institute, Dayton, Ohio, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, The New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana, Akron Art Museum, Akron, Ohio, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, Connecticut.


Biography from Anderson Galleries, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Gaston La Touche, a French painter and printmaker, was born in Saint-Cloud in 1854.  A self-taught artist, he was from childhood determined to be a painter and was supported in this ambition by his well-to-do parents.  His first paintings (1880s) were domestic scenes in the 17th century Dutch style.  They were vigorous, harsh and somber and met with no success; he burnt most of them in 1891.

In the late 1880s, the influence of his friend Felix Bracquemond prompted him to discard his early style in favor of the colors favored by the Impressionists; he also shifted his brushwork to small, petal-like strokes of color.  In 1890, he exhibited Phlox and Peonies—both colorful scenes of women, children and flowers—at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which brought him immediate success.  These works represent the beginning of a radical shift in La Touche’s subject matter, palette and technique.

During the six years until 1896, he gradually, yet steadily evolved from realism to the idealism that would become the hallmark of his oeuvre: the creation of a harmonious, luminous and charming world of parks and gardens, nymphs and fountains, fireworks, and fetes-champetres.

La Touche participated in shows mounted by the Societe des Artistes Francais in the 1880s and 1890s, receiving a third place medal in 1884 and second place medal in 1888.  In 1889 La Touche won a bronze medal at the l’Exposition Universelle and was later awarded a gold medal at the 1900 l’Exposition Universelle.  In 1900, La Touche also received the Legion d’honneur and was made an officer of the Legion in 1909.

As further proof of his success, in 1908 an impressive retrospective featured over 300 of his works at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris.  In 1909 his paintings were exhibited in another large show at Boussod and Valadon in The Hague.  At this time, La Touche was awarded several official commissions for large-scale decorative schemes.  These included four views of fetes at Versailles for the Palais d’Elysee, four decorative panels showing landscapes with figures for the Ministere de l’Agriculture, four pictures representing the arts for the Ministere de la Justice and decorations for the dining room of the liner La France.  He also painted murals for the house of the dramatist Edmond Rostand at Cambo, Pyrenees-Atlantiques. These large canvases and murals, reminiscent of the work of such 18th century artists as Hubert Robert and Jean Honore Fragonard, are characterized by glowing colors and broad brushstrokes.  La Touche’s most well known works remain his light-filled garden and fetes gallants paintings, all completed with his trademark delicate brushwork and beautifully vivid palette.

Museum Collections Include:
The Art Institute of Chicago; The Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco; The Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; Dayton Art Institute, Ohio; Museum of Modern Art, Paris; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia; Musee de Medan, France; Alencon, France; le Mans, France


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