Born in Dieppe on 8th August 1869 Louis Valtat was to become one of the pre-eminent painters of the Post-Impressionist period. His style was of the expressive, Van Gogh-influenced variety of Post-Impressionism, as opposed to the more decorative style of Bonnard and Matisse. His early Fauvist coastal scenes are considered his greatest achievements. Prices for these paintings have reached as high as $375,000. Valtat is known for his landscapes, flower paintings and to a slightly lesser extent the depiction of figures. (Of incidental interest, we have purchased his wonderful early self portrait of 1901 for a client in New York). His early work is renowned for its vivid colours and expressive use of thick paint. His later work became rather more stylised and while he still used bright colours and impasto there is less expressive brushwork and a greater reliance on design and outline. He began his studies at the Hoche secondary school in Versailles, where his parents were living. When he was aged 17 in 1886 (the year when Vincent Van Gogh arrived in Paris for the first time) Louis applied for admission to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, where his illustrious teachers were to be Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebvre, and later Benjamin Constant. Winner of the Jauvin d’Attainville prize in 1890, he took a studio in the Rue de La Glacière in Paris. The first paintings he entered for the Salon des Artistes Indépendants in 1893 were scenes of the daily life in the surrounding streets including Sur le Boulevard (a canvas that was favourably commented on by art critic and writer Félix Fénéon). At the end of 1894, in collaboration with Henri de Toulouse Lautrec and aided by Albert André, he created the décor for the theatre L’Oeuvre at the request of Lugné Poë. His engravings and paintings were hung at the exhibition of the Salon des Cent. Around this time he began to suffer from tuberculosis and he went down to Banyuls on the Mediterranean coast, where George-Daniel de Monfreid introduced him to Aristide Maillol. Together they made a number of trips to Llança and Figueras in Spain. In 1895, continuing his convalescence in Arcachon, Louis Valtat painted numerous canvases in very violent tones that again attracted the attention of Félix Fénéon. These paintings were the forerunners of Fauvism, a movement that created a scandal 10 years later at the Salon d’Automne of 1905. A group exhibition was organised by Paul Signac at the famous Durand Ruel Gallery in March 1899, where Valtat exhibited twenty canvases, fifteen of which were shown under the heading Notations d’Agay, 1899. He had in fact been spending autumn and winter in the south since 1898 with his future wife Suzanne, whom he married in 1900. They first went to Agay, a small fishing village close to Saint Raphaël, and then to Anthéor, a few kilometres farther away. And it was also in 1900 that, on the advice of Renoir, Ambroise Vollard made an agreement with Valtat, buying practically all his work for the next ten years. His absence from Paris did not prevent him from attending the Libre Esthétique exhibition in Brussels the same year, where he showed Le jardin du Luxembourg and Le boulevard Saint Michel. In 1903 he exhibited in Vienna at the ‘Gebaüde der Secession’, and in 1906 in Dresden at the Kunst Salon Ersnt Arnold. Further afield, he also exhibited in Berlin at the Berliner Secession, in Budapest, in Prague, and in Moscow in 1908 at the Moskva Tretyakov Gallery. During their stays at Anthéor, the Valtats often crossed the Estérel hills, sometimes on bicycles, to visit Auguste Renoir, who had rented the Maison de la Poste in Cagnes. On one such visit in 1903, Renoir painted the Portrait de Suzanne Valtat, while Valtat made a number of pen and ink studes for a Portrait de Renoir. The drawings were used as the basis for a woodcut. The distance from Anthéor to Saint Tropez was about 40 kilometres, so that it was easy to make a day’s visit to Paul Signac in the Bollée, a little car that Valtat acquired from Signac in exchange for his painting ‘Le Cap Roux’. In the spring and summer Louis Valtat went eagerly to Normandy, to get back to the seaside and above all to paint, staying in Port en Bessin, Arromanches, and later at Ouistreham In 1905 Valtat selected a place to stay during his visits to Paris on the Butte Montmartre, first in Rue Girardon and then Place Constantin Pecqueur, and finally settling in the Avenue de Wagram, close to the Arc de Triomphe. As he was often absent from Paris, his dealer, Ambroise Vollard, had taken over responsibility for sending in his entries for the Salons. Louis Valtat became involved in the uproar over “Fauvisme” at the 1905 Salon d’Automne because one of his canvases was reproduced in the magazine “L’Illustration” next to paintings by Henri Manguin, Henri Matisse, André Derain and Jean Puy. From 1914 there were no more winters in Anthéor and he came to miss the pleasures of having a garden. Ten years later he bought a house in Choisel, a little village in the Vallée de Chevreuse, where he spent most of the year. His garden, and the flowers and fruit that he grew there, became the principle sources of inspiration for his painting. It was at Choisel that he enjoyed entertaining his friends Georges d’Espagnat and Maximilien Luce. During one of his visits, Luce painted the village church. By now the recognition of his fellow artists was assured and he was also appointed Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1927. After the exodus of 1940 and the Occupation years, Louis Valtat hardly left his atelier on the Avenue de Wagram. He suffered from a glaucoma that made it increasingly difficult for him to see and paint, and his health began to fail. At his last public appearance, for the Fauvism exhibition held in the summer of 1951 at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, he attended the exhibition of six of his paintings. The crisis came at the end of 1951, when Louis Valtat was moved to a clinic in Paris, where he died on 2 January 1952.