Physalis Et Pommes, c 1918

by Louis Valtat


Dimensions: (unframed) 20.8 x 28 inches.
(framed) 30.8 x 38 inches.
Signature: Signed (lower right)
Medium: Oil on canvas

Valtat’s brushwork employs light strokes inspired by the Impressionists, combined with strong outlines influenced by his contemporaries. He is known as a member of the fauvists – sometimes translated as “wild beasts” for their aggressive use of colour.


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    This is a still life painting of incredible harmonies. Louis Valtat brings together his Impressionist-inspired brushwork with bold, ebullient colours adopted by the Fauves he identified with. The warm reds and oranges are complimented by earthy greens and sea blues. The glossy round apples and physalis fruits look tempting enough to take a bite out of, and juxtapose against the angular jutting stems of the plant. Behind these objects, fabric curves and crinkles and the scene seems to rustle; a wonderfully lively and vivid depiction.

    Louis Valtat was identified by the late, great, art collector and dealer Ambroise Vollard as one of the most exciting painters working in Paris at the turn of the 20th century.  On Renoir’s advice, Vollard made an agreement with Valtat to purchase almost all of the artist’s work for the first decade of the 20th century (1902 – 1912).

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    Born in Normandy and raised near Versailles, Louis Valtat decides to follow an artistic career and enrols at the École des Beaux Arts de Paris in 1887. He continued his studies at the Académie Julian under Jules Dupré (1811-1889) who was a Barbizon landscape artist.

    As a Parisian art student, he befriended Albert Andre (1869-1954), Maurice Denis (1870-1943), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) and Edouard Vuillard (1868 – 1940) – all members of the Nabis movement influenced by Paul Gauguin’s sythesist methods – using simple forms and strong, pure colours. Valtat did not become a Nabi, but he did learn and later used their style as an influence.

    Valtat exhibited throughout his career and even worked together with sculptor Aristide Maillol (1861-1944) on some projects, and with Henri Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) on the décor of the Paris theatre L’Ouevre in 1894. Valtat’s health obliged him to move to the Mediterranean coast in the autumn and winter seasons. Here he and his family would often visit Paul Signac (1863-1935) in Bollée and Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) in Cagnes.

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