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 Louis Valtat  (1869 - 1952)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: portrait, figure, still life and landscape painting

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Biography from Schiller & Bodo European Paintings:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A leading founder of the Fauvist movement, Louis Valtat was an independent and versatile painter.  Fauvist principles required a total liberation of local color in favor of palette of unmixed paint used straight from the tube, often applied with firm, even violent brushwork. Forms are simplified and flattened, giving precedence to a patterned, decorative surface. Although Valtat had painted in this manner for several years, it wasn't until his exhibition in the 1905 Salon d'Automne that the term “Fauves,” meaning “wild beasts,” came into use, coined by a prominent critic to describe many of the artists exhibiting that year, including Matisse, Vlaminck, Derain, Manguin, Dongen Friesz, Puy and Valtat.

He began his studies at the Hoche secondary school in Versailles, where his parents were living. When he was aged 17 in 1886 (the year when Vincent Van Gogh arrived in Paris for the first time) Louis applied for admission to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where his teachers were to be Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre, and later Benjamin Constant. Winner of the Jauvin d'Attainville prize in 1890, he took a studio in the Rue de La Glacière in Paris. The first paintings he entered for the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1893 were scenes of the daily life in the surrounding streets including Sur le Boulevard (a canvas that was favourably commented on by art critic and writer Félix Fénéon). At the end of 1894, in collaboration with Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and aided by Albert André, he created the décor for the theatre L'Oeuvre at the request of Lugné Poë.  His engravings and paintings were hung at the exhibition of the Salon des Cent.

Around this time he began to suffer from tuberculosis and he went down to Banyuls on the Mediterranean coast, where George-Daniel de Monfreid introduced him to Aristide Maillol. Together they made a number of trips to Llança and Figueras in Spain.

In 1895, continuing his convalescence in Arcachon, Louis Valtat painted numerous canvases in very violent tones that again attracted the attention of Félix Fénéon. These paintings were the forerunners of Fauvism, a movement that created a scandal 10 years later at the Salon d’Automne of 1905. A group exhibition was organised by Paul Signac at the famous Durand Ruel Gallery in March 1899, where Valtat exhibited twenty canvases, fifteen of which were shown under the heading Notations d'Agay, 1899. He had in fact been spending autumn and winter in the south since 1898 with his future wife Suzanne, whom he married in 1900. They first went to Agay, a small fishing village close to Saint Raphaël and which is the location of our painting, and then to Anthéor, a few kilometres farther away. And it was also in 1900 that, on the advice of Renoir, Ambroise Vollard made an agreement with Valtat, buying practically all his work for the next ten years.

His absence from Paris did not prevent him from attending the Libre Esthétique exhibition in Brussels the same year, where he showed Le jardin du Luxembourg and Le boulevard Saint Michel. In 1903 he exhibited in Vienna at the ‘Gebaüde der Secession’, and in 1906 in Dresden at the Kunst Salon Ersnt Arnold. Further afield, he also exhibited in Berlin at the Berliner Secession, in Budapest, in Prague, and in Moscow in 1908 at the Moskva Tretyakov Gallery. During their stays at Anthéor, the Valtats often crossed the Estérel hills, sometimes on bicycles, to visit Auguste Renoir, who had rented the Maison de la Poste in Cagnes. On one such visit in 1903, Renoir painted the Portrait de Suzanne Valtat, while Valtat made a number of pen and ink studes for a Portrait de Renoir. The drawings were used as the basis for a woodcut.

The distance from Anthéor to Saint Tropez was about 40 kilometres, so that it was easy to make a day's visit to Paul Signac in the Bollée, a little car that Valtat acquired from Signac in exchange for his painting ‘Le Cap Roux’. In the spring and summer Louis Valtat went eagerly to Normandy, to get back to the seaside and above all to paint, staying in Port en Bessin, Arromanches, and later at Ouistreham In 1905 Valtat selected a place to stay during his visits to Paris on the Butte Montmartre, first in Rue Girardon and then Place Constantin Pecqueur, and finally settling in the Avenue de Wagram, close to the Arc de Triomphe.

As he was often absent from Paris, his dealer, Ambroise Vollard, had taken over responsibility for sending in his entries for the Salons. Louis Valtat became involved in the uproar over "Fauvisme" at the 1905 Salon d'Automne because one of his canvases was reproduced in the magazine "L'Illustration" next to paintings by Henri Manguin, Henri Matisse, André Derain and Jean Puy. From 1914 there were no more winters in Anthéor and he came to miss the pleasures of having a garden. Ten years later he bought a house in Choisel, a little village in the Vallée de Chevreuse, where he spent most of the year. His garden, and the flowers and fruit that he grew there, became the principle sources of inspiration for his painting. It was at Choisel that he enjoyed entertaining his friends Georges d’Espagnat and Maximilien Luce. During one of his visits, Luce painted the village church.

By now the recognition of his fellow artists was assured and he was also appointed Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1927. After the exodus of 1940 and the Occupation years, Louis Valtat hardly left his atelier on the Avenue de Wagram. He suffered from a glaucoma that made it increasingly difficult for him to see and paint, and his health began to fail. At his last public appearance, for the Fauvism exhibition held in the summer of 1951 at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, he attended the exhibition of six of his paintings.

The crisis came at the end of 1951, when Louis Valtat was moved to a clinic in Paris, where he died on 2 January 1952.

Full details of Valtat’s life and work can be found in the 1977 book by Dr Jean Valtat Louis Valtat, catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre peint, 1869-1952, Editions Ides et Calendes, 1977.

Museums:
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux; Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, MA; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Chambéry; Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseilles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The State Hermitage Museum, Saint-Petersburg; Musée de l’Annonciade, Saint-Tropez; Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art; Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse; Musée des Augustins, Toulouse; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Troyes; Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL

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.

Louis Valtat was born in Dieppe on 8 August, 1869.  He studied at le Lycée Hoche in Versailles where his parents lived.  In 1886, when he was 17 years old, he applied for admission at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and completed his training at the Académie Julian where he made friends with Albert André and Pierre Bonnard.

In 1890, he won the Jauvin d'Attainville prize; he then set up his workshop at rue de La Glacière in Paris.  In 1893, he took part in the Salon des Artistes Indépendants for the first time.  His paintings covered one main theme: the life in the neighbouring streets such as Sur le boulevard, which Félix Fénéon duly noted.  By the end of 1894, he achieved a scenery for the theater "l'Oeuvre" in collaboration with Toulouse Toulouse Lautrec and with Albert André's help at Lugné Poë's request.  Simultaneously, his engravings and paintings were exhibited at the Salon des Cent.

As he was suffering from pulmonary consumption, Valtat often went to Banyuls for treatment where he met George-Daniel de Monfreid, who introduced him to Aristide Maillol.  He went on several trips to Spain, either to Llança or Figueras.  In 1895, as he was still recovering from his illness in Arcachon, Louis Valtat painted numerous pictures with striking colours; these paintings were exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in 1896 where Félix Fénéon noticed them and mentioned them in la Revue Blanche.  These paintings introduced the Fauvist style, which was thought of as just as outrageous then as ten years later at the Salon d'Automne in 1905.

In March 1899, Paul Signac organized a joint exhibition at la Galerie Durand Ruel where Louis Valtat presented twenty paintings entitled Notations d'Agay, 1899.  Since the winter 1897-8, he used to spend the winter season in Agay, a small fishing village of fishermen close to Saint Raphaël and, later on, in Anthéor, a few kilometers away.  He was accompanied by Suzanne whom he married in 1900.

During the same year, thanks to Renoir's friendly recommendation, Ambroise Vollard made an agreement with Valtat, buying almost his whole production for the next 10 years.

When staying in Anthéor, Valtat often went across the Estérel, sometimes on their bicycles, to visit Auguste Renoir who rented "la Maison de la Poste" in Cagnes at that time.  During one of these visits in 1903, Renoir painted the Portrait de Suzanne while Valtat drew a few ink sketches of Renoir.  Later on, he used these sketches for engraving on wood.

Paul Signac stayed in Saint Tropez which is 40 kilometers from Anthéor. Valtat had exchanged his painting Le Cap Roux for Paul Signac's fuel car, "La Bollée".  Thanks to this car, the distance between the two places was easily covered during the day.

Though living far from Paris, Louis Valtat took part in the Brussels exhibition "La Libre Esthétique" in 1900 where he presented Le jardin du Luxembourg and Le boulevard Saint Michel.  He was also present in 1903 at the "Gebaüde der Secession" in Vienna, in 1906 at the Kunst Salon Ersnt Arnold in Dresde, and at the Berline Secession in Berlin as well as in Budapest, Praha, and in 1908 at the Moskva Tretyakov Galerie in Moscow.

The Russian collector, Ivan Morossov bought from Vollard several pictures painted by Valtat.

Ambroise Vollard dispatched Valtat's paintings to the exhibitions which were held in Paris.  In 1905, as one of his paintings was reproduced in the magazine L'Illustration next to those of Henri Manguin, Henri Matisse, André Derain and Jean Puy, he got mixed up with the "Fauvism" scandal at the Salon d'Automne.

In the Spring and Summer time, Louis Valtat used to go to the seaside, particularly to paint.  He liked to go to Port en Bessin, Arromanches and, later on, Ouistreham in Normandy.

Valtat with his wife would live in his parents' house in Versailles when they were not in Anthéor or in Normandy.  However, in 1905, they moved to la Butte Montmartre, at rue Girardon and place Constantin Pecqueur, respectively.

In 1914, Louis Valtat moved to l'avenue de Wagram, close to l'Arc de Triomphe and to the Bois de Boulogne whose lakes very often appeared in his work.  In 1914, Louis Valtat stopped travelling to Antheor.  In 1924, after 10 years of being deprived the pleasure of a garden, he bought a house in Choisel, a small village in the Chevreuse valley.  He spent the major part of the year in that place.

His garden as well as the flowers and fruits which he grew, became his favorite theme for his paintings. In Choisel, Valtat liked to host his friends, Georges d'Espagnat or Maximilien Luce who painted the village church on a visit.

By that time, he had received official recognition and was made chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1927; at the 1951 exhibition on the Fauvism, which took place at the Modern Art National Museum in Paris, six of his paintings were shown among which no. 116, entitled "Arbres".  Since then, this painting seems to have gone a strange way.

After the 1940 exodus and the following years' occupation, Louis Valtat had serious problems with his eyes (glaucoma) and seldom left his workshop located at l'avenue de Wagram, where he realized his last paintings dated 1948.

Source: http://www.valtat.com/biographyuk.htm

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.

Louise Valtat was a French painter, printmaker and stage designer.  He spent much of his youth in Versailles, moving in 1887 to Paris, where he studied under Gustave Moreau at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and under Jules Dupre at the Academie Julian. There he met Maurice Denis, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard and Albert Andre.

With a keen interest in both artistic precedents and contemporary trends, he absorbed in the mid-1890s the chief tenets of Impressionism, Van Gogh's work and Pointillism before slowly developing his own style.  In 1895 he collaborated with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Andre on the set of a French play.  Under Toulouse-Lautrec's influence, his own works darkened both in color and sentiment.  However, by 1896 he painted contemporary French life with an overall sunnier, more optimistic air, as in Water Carriers at Arcachon, in which he referred to Van Gogh, as well as looking to Fauvism for his use of bold colors.

From 1899 to 1914, Valtat divided much of his time between Paris and a house he built in Antheor, near le Lavandou, but early on he also traveled and considerably broadened his contacts with other artists.  In 1894 and early 1895, he spent time with Aristide Maillol in Banyuls and Collioure, at the point when Maillol abandoned a career in textiles for sculpture.  He visited Auguste Renoir several times between 1900 and 1905 at Magagnosc, near Grasse.  Their portraits of each other included a wood engraving of Renoir, and they collaborated on a sculpted bust of Cezanne.  In 1902 in Venice, Valtat translated his direct observations of southern light into a striking group of broadly painted works.  He visited Signac at St. Tropez in 1903 and 1904 and recorded North African street life in several oil sketches.  He also explored Normandy in 1907.

As early as 1893 Valtat exhibited at the Salon des Independants, La Libre Esthetique in Brussels in 1900, and the ground breaking Salon d' Automne in 1903.  Among the reproductions in Louis Vauxcelle's review of the Salon d' Automne of 1905, in which the term 'Fauve' was first used, was a loosely brushed marine scene by Valtat. Valtat, however, always remained detached and on the fringe of the Fauvist circle. His palette then was bright, but the distortions of color and line were not quite as bold or reduced as those achieved by Henri Matisse. (Excerpt from the Grove Dictionary of Art)

Valtat's painting, Portrait de Femme, is a beautiful example of Valtat's command of female portraiture.  The woman in this piece is pictured in profile, casually resting in an armchair and gazing off to our left. S he appears informal yet refined as she sits for the artist.  As per his signature technique, Valtat utilizes petal-like strokes of subtle color in this painting.  His muted palette is complemented with touches of vibrant color, which keep the viewer's eye engaged.  Like his other portraits of women, Portrait de Femme includes many softly curving lines; the enveloping armchair, her rounded flowing dress, and soft topknot of auburn hair all speak to the femininity of Valtat's subject.

His paintings can be found in Paris at the Musee d'Art Moderne, Musee du Petit Palais, and Musee des Arts Decoratif.  Other museums include Musee Bernay, Le Havre, Helsinki, Nantes and Nimes

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