Henri M. Petit;
Private collection, United Kingdom
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).
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.
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.