Piviones et iris
oil on canvas
21.5 x 18.25 inches (54,5 x 46,4 cm)
signed lower right
Louis Valtat arrived in Paris at an early age, having completed his classical education at Versailles. He studied at the Académie Julian where he became acquainted with Bonnard, Denis, Vuillard and André. A close friend of these Nabis artists, Valtat would frequent the Café Volpini, their favourite meeting place, in order to participate in their aesthetic discussions. Equally, he adopted their decorative use of color and their ‘intimisme’ for his own work.
The artist was also part of a vibrant Parisian scene of artists/illustrators. Living a bohemian lifestyle in the early 1890s, he became very interested in the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, whose influence can be traced in Valtat’s expressive use of line and fluid sketchy brushwork. Valtat went much further than his Nabis associates in his explorations into the symbolic potential of color. In this he can be seen to have anticipated the Fauvist movement, with which he was associated by way of his participation in the scandalous “Cage aux Fauves” Salon d’Automne of 1905.
Following his studies, Valtat travelled regularly to la Côte de l’Esterel in the south of France. Here he met Signac at his house in St Tropez; they became close friends and Signac bought several of his works. Valtat travelled in the Mediterranean and sojourned in Antheor in the period between 1899 and 1913. Here the distinctive coastline and vegetation of the Esterel surrounded him and this greatly inspired his important exploration of color. The colors he adopted at this time continued to dominate his palette in his later work.