Gaston La Touche

(French, 1854–1913)

fireworks, venice by gaston la touche

Gaston La Touche

Fireworks, Venice

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Biography

Timeline

Gaston La Touche, a self-taught artist, became a famous and successful French painter and printmaker. From childhood he was determined to be a painter and was supported in this ambition by his well-to-do parents. He admired Zola and provided drypoint illustrations for his novel L'Assommoir (1879). His first paintings (1880s) were domestic scenes in the style of the Dutch 17th century. They were vigorous, harsh and sombre and met with no success: he burnt most of them in 1891. The influence of his friend Felix Bracquemond prompted him to discard his early style and to use the colours favoured by the Impressionists; his brushwork is characterized by small, petal-like strokes of colour. In 1890 he showed Phlox and Peonies (untraced), both colourful scenes of women, children and flowers, at the Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts, which brought him immediate success. His fetes galantes and singeries recall French 18th-century art, and he also specialized in Breton subjects, such as Pardon in Brittany (1896; Chicago, IL, Art Institute).
He was elected a member of the Societe National des Beaux Arts in 1890, having already been a member of the Societaire des Artistes Francais since 1883. He received numerous medals at these societies, as well as at the Exposition Universelles in 1889 and 1900.
After receiving the Legion d'honneur in 1900 (he was later awarded the great honour of being elected an ‘officer’ of this select band), La Touche was given several official commissions for large-scale decorative schemes. These included four views of fetes at Versailles (never installed) for the Palais d'Elysee (1906; Paris, Pal. Luxembourg), four decorative panels showing landscapes with figures (untraced) for the Ministere de l'Agriculture, four pictures representing the arts (never installed) for the Ministere de la Justice (exhibited Salon 1910; Paris, Pompidou) and decorations for the dining room of the liner La France (executed 1912; destroyed in the 1930s).
Glowing colours and broad brushstrokes characterize these large canvases, reminiscent of the work of such 18th-century artists as Hubert Robert and Jean-Honore Fragonard. In 1908 La Touche exhibited over 300 works at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. He painted murals, c. 1910, for the house of the dramatist Edmond Rostand at Cambo, Pyrenees-Atlantiques.
His paintings are represented in many important collections, including the Museums of Alencon, Le Mans, and most importantly the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

Literature

Benezit
Thieme & Becker
Schurr