Hippolyte Petitjean was born in Macon in 1854, where he studied at the local art school before moving to Paris in 1872 to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. He worked in the studios of Cabanel and Puvis de Chavannes, the latter leaving a lasting impression on him.
Petitjean first exhibited at the official Salon in 1880. Although he was friendly with Seurat from 1884, it was two years before the Pointillist technique was to spark interest in him. Pointillism attempted to put the Impressionist painting of light and colour on a scientific basis by using an optical mixture of colours. Instead of mixing colours on the palette, which reduces intensity, the primary-colour components of each colour were placed separately on the canvas in tiny dots so they would mix in the viewer’s eye. Optically mixed colours move towards white so this method gave greater luminosity. Petitjean adapted the Pointillist technique to watercolour painting. With their radiant landscapes and vivid palette of saturated colours, his watercolours mastered the art of Pointillism to decorative perfection. ‘Les toits rouges dans la vallée’ is a striking example of a Petitjean watercolour, demonstrating an unquestionable mastery of technique by one of the leading exponents of Pointillism.
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity by Patrice Jeannelle, dated Paris, 11th September 1986.