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Gaston La Touche (1854 - 1913)

(credits: Larousse)
French painter Gaston La Touche was born at St Cloud near Paris and barely received any formal training, but came under the influence of two older painters: Felix Bracquemond and Edouard Manet. It was less their style that influenced the young La Touche and more their desire for authenticity and truth in both art and life.

During the late 1870s La Touche became part of a Parisian artistic and literary set who frequented the Café de la Nouvelle-Athenes that included Edouard Manet, artist Edgar Degas, writer Emile Zola and collector Theodore Duret. Socially conscious, La Touche began depicting the lives of miners and labourers. However after 1890 his subject matter, palette and technique radically shifted. The following year La Touche even burned fifteen of his social-realist works in the fire. His social-realism gave way to the fantastical idealism he is best-know for: a world of luminous parks and gardens, nymphs and fountains, fireworks and fêtes-champêtres, 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. Indeed, La Touche claimed: "I have only one Master, the Park of Versailles." Influenced both by the Impressionists and by the French eighteenth century Rococo style, La Touche created his own form of Divisionism. This unique and otherworldly style is, naturally, most readily apparent in his allegorical and mythological paintings.

A regular exhibitor in Paris at the Salon de la Sociéte Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the Société des Peintres et Sculpteurs, Galeries Georges Petit and the Société de la Peinture á l’Eau (of which he was founder and President), La Touche exhibited also in London and the Netherlands. He was awarded the Legion d’honneur in 1900.

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