Louis Valtat

French, 1869-1952 Biography

Louis Valtat is known as one of the leaders and founders of the Fauvist movement, which did not totally begin until 1905 at the Salon d'Automne. Born in 1869, Valtat moved to Pans at the age of 17 to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts under Boulanger, Lefebvre and Constant. He was involved with the most influential groups of artists, such as Renoir, Signac, d'Espagnat, and Luce, and exhibited widely throughout his career. For instance, in 1894, he collaborated with Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Albert Andre in creating the décor for the theater "L'Oeuvre" at the request of Lugne Poe.

Valtat suffered from tuberculosis, and thus spent most winters and falls along the Mediterranean cost in Banyuls, Antheor and Saint Tropez. Often, he and his family would visit Renoir at the Maison de la Poste in Caenes and Signac in Bollee. It was during this time along the Mediterranean, from 1901 to 1904,  that Valtat's use of color became of great concern to him and he truly began to express his Fauvist tendencies, particularly in his seascapes.

In Suzanne Valtat sur le rivage d'Antheor, 1904, the residual influence of Monet is clear - there are echoes of the animated brushwork of the Belle-Isle storm paintings and the heightened color of his southern canvases. However the rippling movements of the brush in the rocks echo Van Gogh. The dominant color of the foreground rocks is derived from the startling local colors of the area, the Esterel mountains between Cannes and Saint Raphael - an intense orange-red which stands out against the blue sea. Valtat has used this as a basis for free improvisation, particularly in the startling points of rich green among the rocks.

Although Valtat had for several years painted in a Fauvist style, it wasn't until 1905 when his dealer, Ambrie Vollard, sent one of his paintings to the Salon d'Automne, that Fauvism became recognized and began causing controversy in the art world.

Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Musée d'Orsay Collection, Paris
Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford, UK
Brooklyn Museum, New York City
Fondation Bemberg Museum, Toulouse, France
Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, Wisconsin
Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, France
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes, France
Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid
University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City