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Felix Vallotton (Switzerland, 1865 – Paris, 1925), Portrait of Puvis de Chavannes


woodcut on paper
7  X 5.25 ins (18 x 13 cms)
Notes: Felix Vallotton’s “Portrait of Puvis de Chavannes” was commissioned by “The Studio”, in London, in 1899. This original woodcut is signed in the block with Felix Vallotton’s ‘F. V.’ monogram to the lower right and bearing the red blindstamp of the publisher along the lower margin. It is printed upon wove paper with full margins as published on the above date.
Sold unframed, but housed in an archival mat and backing board. Excellent condition.


Puvis de Chavannes (Lyons, 1824 – Paris, 1898) was one of France’s most admired artists and proved to be a major influence for both the Symbolists and Post-Impressionists.

Felix Vallotton:
A major turn-of-the-century printmaker and painter, Felix Vallotton left his native Switzerland for Paris at the age of seventeen. Shortly thereafter he enrolled in the Academie Julian and studied art there with his fellow classmate, Toulouse-Lautrec. He exhibited his first paintings in Paris with the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1885. Within several years, however, Felix Vallotton abandoned traditional styles and began exhibiting with the Nabis. The Nabis (a Hebrew word meaning ‘prophets’) were a loosely associated group of French artists who were formed to explore artistic elements inspired by the paintings and prints of Paul Gaugin. Besides Felix Vallotton, other members included Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Maurice Denis and Aristide Maillol.

During the 1890’s Felix Vallotton came to international attention by means of his woodcuts, lithographs and illustrations. His first original print dates from 1897 and his illustrations were produced in such major publications as “Le Revue Blanche”, “Le Rire” and “L’Assiette au Beure”. Felix Vallotton’s art, particularly his woodcuts, drew much criticism from conservative quarters. Inspired by the classic art of the Japanese woodcut, Vallotton deliberately simplified form to its almost abstract form. As one can see in such a masterpiece as “Portrait of Puvis de Chavannes”, his bold sense of design removed his art far from contemporary Impressionist and Art Nouveau concerns. In many ways, Felix Vallotton’s art was an important influence upon the twentieth century modernism and the Art Deco movement.

In 1900, Felix Vallotton became a French citizen. After this time he concentrated mostly upon painting and was a regular exhibitor at the Salon des Independants, the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery and the Salon d’Automne. Some of his most renowned paintings and drawings depict the horrors of the First World War.

In total, Felix Vallotton creation 55 original lithographs and 145 original woodcuts. Today such important institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, Musee d’Orsay, Paris, Kunsthaus, Zurich, Musee d’art et d’histoire, Geneva, and the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, house examples of his fine art.

“Portrait of Puvis de Chavannes” was commissioned by The Studio, in London, in 1899.

The Studio was the preeminent art journal of the arts and crafts movement during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Founded in 1893, the journal frequently commissioned leading contemporary artists for original etchings, lithographs and woodcuts. Contributing artists during the 1890’s included Felix Vallotton, James McNeill Whistler, Emil Orlik, Charles Edward Holloway, Hans Thoma, Joseph Pennell, Alexandre Lunois, Fernand Khnopff, Robert Anning Bell and Frank Brangwyn. Felix Valloton’s “Portrait of Puvis de Chavannes” was published a year after de Chavannes’s death.

Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (Lyons, 1824 – Paris, 1898) studied art in Paris under both Henri Scheffer and Thomas Couture. He established studios in the Place Pigalle and at Neuilly and first began exhibiting his paintings in 1850 at the Paris Salon. Within several years, however, his art was rejected by the Salon and fell out of public favour. Yet several influential writers and critics, such as Theophile Gautier, defended his work, as well as such artists as Gaugin, Seurat and Toulouse-Lautrec.

Puvis de Chavannes was one of the first great painters to deliberately simplify form and accentuate rhythmic lines and non-naturalistic colors. This is seen most clearly in his great public murals, the first commission dating from 1876. Subsequent mural work included decorations for the Sorbonne, Paris City Hall and the Boston Public Library. By the end of his life Puvis de Chavannes had become one of France’s most admired artists and proved to be a major influence for both the Symbolists and Post-Impressionists.

Maxime Valloton and C. Goerg, “Felix Vallotton: Catalogue raisonne de l’oeuvre grave et lithographie”, Geneva, Les Editions de Bonvet S. A., 1972.
Catalogue # V. & G. 200 (b), as published by “The Studio”, London, 1899.

September 5, 2017


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