Ferdinand du puigaudeau

Gondoles, Manège et Feu d’Artifice la Nuit 

1904
oil on canvas
25.125 x 37 inches
signed lower right

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Provenance:  Estate of the artist

Literature: Ferdinand du Puigaudeau Catalogue Raisonné Tome I, Antoine Laurentin  N° 55, page 276 (Reproduced in color page 38)

Exposition: Galerie Salvador, Paris 1988

Born in Nantes, Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau was raised by his uncle from the age of six. Always artistically inclined, he ran away from Jesuit school in Paris to study painting on his own. An autodidact for the most part, du Puigaudeau found his most important teacher in Pont-Aven, which he first visited in the summer of 1886. It was there that he met Gauguin, who became both friend and mentor, and there that he became a member of the École de Pont-Aven at its inception. Inspired as well by Impressionism and the Divisionism of Seurat, he began investigating the effects of light, often focusing on night scenes. His depictions of fireworks, nightly processions and fairgrounds in the town of Pont-Aven earned him early renown.

In 1903 he had an exhibition of 53 works at the Galerie des Artistes Modernes in Paris. The New York Herald reviewed the show: “Mr. du Puigaudeau: painter of fireworks, rockets and sun and gay landscapes. He juggles with the exploding lights pyrotechnic and nightly transparent illuminations through which he creates an unerring truth. Decidedly, Impressionism when applied with such a formula can only be applauded.”

Despite a certain amount of early success, du Puigaudeau fit the mould of the suffering artist. He had several disastrous setbacks that ruined his career though not his art. In 1904 he traveled to Venice to live and paint, financed by a loan from his cousin against all his paintings. After two years in Venice, du Puigaudeau had produced some marvelous paintings for a planned exhibition, but his cousin suddenly demanded immediate repayment of the loan. The artist was unable to afford this and was obliged to hand over his paintings, which were then unceremoniously sold in fire-sale fashion. A falling out with the famed dealer Durand-Ruel over finances followed this disaster. Impoverished, du Puigaudeau returned to Pont-Aven, and then to Kervaudu in Brittany where he and his family lived in isolation from the art world. There he continued painting beautiful luminous landscapes in a Post-Impressionist style. His friend and collector Degas called him “L’Ermite de Kervaudu” for shunning Paris and isolating himself. Due to two serious financial setbacks during his career as well as the First World War, his fame waned and he died a forgotten and isolated figure. Since then much has been done to focus on the artist and his paintings. His works are now included in important exhibitions of Post-Impressionism.

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