GASTON LA TOUCHE
Gaston La Touche was a French painter, born in St Cloud, near Paris. He took private art lessons as a young boy up until the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, when he and his family moved to Normandy. He had no further formal training, but came under the influence of painters Félix Bracquemond and Edouard Manet. After the Paris Commune and the war, La Touche along with Manet, Degas and a group of painters, critics, poets and authors, gathered regularly at the Café de la Nouvelle-Athènes to discuss art and other matters of the time. During this time, La Touche sought to express sincerity, candour, integrity, and truth in his works.
After 1890, however, his subject matter, palette, and technique shifted radically. From then until 1896, La Touche evolved from realism to the idealism that was to be his hallmark: harmonious, luminous, and charming worlds filled with parks, gardens, nymphs, fountains, and fireworks. In these works, nature is depicted in terms of colour and light, yet with an element of fantasy which sets his work aside from that of the earlier Impressionist Group; it does not really fall into a former category. He attempted his own form of divisionism, but continued to experiment with feathery brush strokes, each of a different shade, which give his pictures an ethereal serenity which seems far removed from the everyday world.
In 1889 he exhibited some of his Versailles views in Paris, followed the same year by an exhibition of watercolours at the Fine Art Society in London and a favourable article in the Studio magazine by Gabriel Mourey. La Touche was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1900, and received an official commission to paint a fete at Versailles for the Elysée Palace in 1906.
La Touche exhibited regularly at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the Société des Peintres et Sculpteurs as well as at the Société de la Peinture a l’Eau which he had founded in 1906 and of which he was President. Over fifty of his works were shown at the Fine Art Society, as well as others that were exhibited at the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts; Goupil Gallery; International Society; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool; Royal Scottish Academy.
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