France • 1865−1925
Felix Vallotton (French. Félix Vallotton December 28, 1865, Lausanne - December 29, 1925, Paris) - Swiss artist and engraver, had a relationship with the group "Nabis". He played an important role in the revival of the art of woodcuts. Known for a series of portraits of writers and politicians of the XIX century.

Features of the artist Felix Vallotton: Vallotton created hundreds of paintings and engravings, was unusually efficient. He owned a completely different styles, so art critics his work is difficult to attribute to any flow. Among his works one can find works that are easily classified as realism, symbolism, impressionism, post-impressionism, and even Japaneseism.

Famous paintings of the artist Philip Vallotton: "Lady with her maid", "Bathing. Summer evening", "Woman in a black hat", "Waltz".

Felix Vallotton. From old masters to impressionism

Felix Vallotton was born in Lausanne to a conservative Protestant middle-class family. His father was a notary and his mother was a baker's daughter. He received his first education at the cantonal (local) gymnasium. Despite the fact that his family was rather far from art, the father, noticing his son’s creative abilities, sent him as much to Paris.

In the private Academy Julien, he studied under the leadership of Jules Joseph lefevre and Gustave Boulangerwho were followers of realism. At first, the young man learned to make plaster sculptures. Hours of visiting the Louvre and copying works by old masters shaped the taste of Vallotton: Holbein, Dürer and Ingres became his artistic ideals for the rest of his life. The artist liked creativity Courbetbut this period was short. After the exhibition Mane in Paris he became interested in impressionism.

Nevertheless, the early painting of Vallotton is the desire for traditional, realistic painting. His first successful job is «Self-portrait»in which the student imitation of Durer and Holbein is still read. In 1886, he received her prize at the Salon of French Artists (Salon des artistes français). The 1880s, Vallotton dedicated to drawing, engraving and art history studies. He mastered the etching and using this technique copied pictures of old masters. Geneva Museum ordered him a series of copies of Spanish artists, including Velazquez.

In the late 80s, Vallotton embarked on a journey with his cousin to Austria and Italy. The artist’s drawings were the only earnings for them, but the income was so miserable that sometimes there wasn’t even enough for food. Brother and sister were forced to return. At home, he continues to engage in watercolor and etchings. But woodcut - a woodcut, will bring him real fame, and his talent for making a flattened black and white image as expressive as possible. His first work - a portrait of Paul Verlaine.

New birth woodcuts

"Bathers" - ten works on a black background became Vallotton's first step towards fame as a master of woodcutting, and the beginning of his work with nude nature, which became one of the most important in his work. Helen Chateaulot posed for him - a model and a sweetheart with whom he lived for several years.

He developed his own style, new and unfamiliar to the viewer: it is concise, often abrupt transition from black to white. One of the main artistic methods of engraving is the stroke that creates volume, Valloton avoided, preferring flatness and sharp contours. Critic Octave Yuzan called him “the ancestor of the revived woodcuts,” because by the end of the century this art form had ceased to be independent, becoming a copying method.

In addition to impressionism and post-impressionism, Vallotton was impressed and reflected in his art Japanese engraving. He first met her at an exhibition in 1890 at the School of Fine Arts. He was not the only fan of this kind of creativity, many were fascinated by Japaneseism, and it was fashionable. At one time he even collected such works.

Vallotton is an artist, but his thoughts and time were occupied not only by the visual arts. He was fascinated by politics, which was especially evident in the 90s. His political views were reflected in woodcuts, demonstrators, street crowds became his heroes, he created several scenes with policemen attacking anarchists. The customers were various political magazines in Berlin, Munich and Paris.

From 1892, he became a member of the Nabi group, where he was affectionately nicknamed "foreign nabi". In general, the next decade was marked for Vallotton by active friendship with the avant-garde artists and the general influence of contemporary art from the end of the 19th century. Flatness, bright local colors, simplification of forms and even angularity - all these were his tools of expressiveness and expression. He painted genre scenes, portraits and nudes. The painting “Bathing. Summer evening ”, exhibited in 1893 - a vivid example of painting of this period. She attracted the attention of the public, much of which was struck by the eroticism of the work, and not at all by artistic innovation.

Vallotton touched and theatrical life, creating the cover for theatrical plays of Swedish playwright August Strindberg. During the 1890s, he worked as an illustrator of several books, such as Jules Renard's The Mistress and Remi de Gourmon's Book of Masks.

The engravings of Vallotton, thanks to the method itself, were widely circulated in periodicals and books of Europe and the United States. They were not just popular, but had a significant impact on graphic art. Edvard Munch, Aubrey Beardsley and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.

Felix Vallotton: through thorns to realism

In 1899, Vallotton broke up with his beloved Helen Chateaulot and married Gabriel Rodriguez-Henriquez, daughter of art dealer Alexander Bernheim, a rich young widow with three children. A year later, he finally received French citizenship. Marriage was a good step for Vallotton, not only in social terms - he became close to the aristocracy, but also in the creative. He has new opportunities, thanks to the regular exhibitions held in the gallery of his father-in-law.

Despite the breadth of views and numerous interests, Vallotton preferred portraits, nudes, intimate and calm images to all subjects. it home scenesbathing women portrait heads. Just at the time of changes in his personal life, the author publishes a series of ten engravings dedicated to intimate relations with spouses (Intimités), with a hint of adultery and insincerity on the part of a sly and calculating woman. Engravings were published in La Revue Blanche.

If the entire period of the late XIX century, Vallotton was fond of woodcutting and avant-garde, then at the beginning of the twentieth century he focuses on a completely different direction. It is a classic oil painting, with an emphasis on realistic images, ohbarefoot, landscapes, still lifes and interiors. Art historians compare the fruits of this period with the works of Ingres and Courbet.

During this period, Vallotton painted portraits of members of the Parisian cultural elite, the writers Felix Feneon, the artist Tade Natanson, the art dealer Amberoise Vollard, the poet Paul Verlaine and the writer Gertrude Stein. He created a fairly large group portrait of artists "Nabi" "Five Artists"which depicts Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Charles Cottet, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Vallotton himself, talking about art. On the canvases of the author, you can often see his wife.

The outlook and interests of Vallotton are still not narrowed, he is also interested in art in all its manifestations. He wrote not only with a brush, creating paintings, but also with a steel pen, surrendering to literature. In 1907, an alarming psychological novel appeared about a young artist who committed suicide "La Vie meurtrière" (Mortal life). The book was released only in 1927, after the death of the author. Vallotton wrote several plays, but they remained unpublished.

And again engraving

The 1910s were notable for the fact that Vallotton was regularly exhibited in different countries, including Russia. In 1913 he received an order for a portrait from Petersburg, and therefore he visited the capital, and then Moscow, which made a great impression on him. However, this trip did not leave a mark on his work.

After nearly 15 years of pictorial experience, he returns to woodcuts again. This time his goal is a series of engravings dedicated to the war “C'est la guerre!” (“This is war!”). The First World War did not leave anyone idle, and Vallotton wished to go to the front, where he was not accepted because of his old age. However, he still saw hostilities with his own eyes, having gone to the front with a group of artists. So the paintings “Verdun” and “Ruins in Suen” were born. In the edition of Les Écrits nouveaux, he published a note in which he described the problems that the artist confronts when carrying military reality to canvas (Art and War, 1917).

Vallotton died of cancer at the age of 60. The last years of his life were not as successful as the previous ones. Nevertheless, he continued to work until the last day of his life. And this is not an exaggeration: on the day when he was taken away for an operation, after which he did not survive, an unfinished canvas remained on an easel.

Vallotton is an amazingly prolific artist. He wrote in a variety of genres, in a variety of styles. Not only that his works were replicated, thanks to a favorite among the technician - engraving, he had a special productivity. In his diary, which he led from his youth, it is noted that he created 1602 paintings and 237 engravings. And that's not counting articles, novels and plays.

Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva

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