Louis Valtat (1869 - 1952)


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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 'Portrait of Louis Valtat', c. 1904 Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 'Portrait of Louis Valtat', c. 1904
Louis Valtat was a French painter born in 1869 in Dieppe, Normandy into a wealthy family of ship owners. Spending much of his childhood in Versailles, Valtat's interest in art was cultivated by his father, himself an amateur landscape painter, and in 1887, Valtat moved to Paris to study at the École des Beaux-Arts. Once graduated from here, he continued to the Académie Julian, and received instruction from the Barbizon landscape painter, Jules Dupré.

In 1890, having been awarded the Jauvin d'Attainville prize, Valtat established a studio of his own at rue La Glacière. In 1893, he made the debut at Salon des Indépendants, contributing several street scenes of the area surrounding this studio.

Throughout this early phase of his career as a painter, Valtat plays with Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist techniques, including within his compositions impulsive areas of light and colourful dots, reminiscent of Pointillism.

In 1894, he designed the decor for the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre, in collaboration with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Albert André.

During the winter seasons, Valtat would often relocate to the Mediterranean coast of France; whilst painting in this littoral setting, his use of colour often became bolder, assuming an almost Fauvist quality. Owing to the works he composed during these vacations, Valtat has been associated with Henri Matisse and the other Fauves, although he remained independent from this group of artists throughout his lifetime.

Although enduring the gradual loss of his sight, Valtat continued to paint until 1948. He died in Paris on 2nd January 1952.
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