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LOUIS WELDEN HAWKINSEnglish/French 1849 - 1910

Provenance:
Mme Mally (the artist’s doctor), France;
Private collection, France (by descent from the above);
Waterhouse & Dodd, London (acquired from the above 2011);
Private collection, Brussels (acquired from the above)

LOUIS WELDEN HAWKINSEnglish/French 1849 - 1910

Louis Weldon Hawkins was born on the 1st July 1849 in Esslingen, Germany but spent his youth in Middlesex, England. After a brief spell in the Royal Navy he left in 1870 to pursue a career in art. He registered at the Académie Julian in Paris where he studied under the great masters Bouguereau and Lefèbvre, before moving on to the Académie des Beaux-Arts under Boulanger. These early years are well documented in two autobiographies by the Irish Writer George Moore (Confessions of a young man – 1888, and Hail and farewell – 1911). During the early years of his career he work in the artistic colony of Grez-sur-Loing close to the south east of Paris. Other artists in this area included many British and Irish painters including John Lavery and Frank O’Meara, who all were influenced to some degree by the work of Bastien-Lepage. It is from this artist that Hawkins developed his love of tranquil landscapes and grey-green autumnal tones. He was not long staying in this environment however, and soon moved the more cosmopolitan and challenging environment of Paris. An ambitious and talented artist, he began the frequent the Avant-guard circles of the day and became increasing interested in the works of the symbolist movement, especially Stéphane Mallarmé to whom he dedicated a canvas – “La porte fermée” in 1896. He showed several of his paintings of this period at the Salon de la Rose+Croix, the nerve centre of this interesting movement. He was interested in the work of the early Renaissance and the medieval period, but not content with representing one sided characters and scenes, Hawkin’s figures and landscapes often contain narrative ambiguities. All is not always how it seems. After 1900 his artist produced increasing fewer paintings, and also began to experiment with other styles, particularly Impressionism. He was drawn to the Impressionist interest in the play of light and he developed a more fluid painting style. After the turn of the century, new at movements such as expressionism and the development of cubism left him cold and he retreated to Brittany with his family. There he began to use a lighter palate in his oils and painted more commercially orientated watercolours to aid the growth of his family. His life was however cut short by a heart attack on the 24th May 1910. The artistic community in Paris paid their respects by mounting a small retrospective at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. A signed work, “Le foyer,” of 1899 bares a close stylistic resemblance to our picture, was bough by the French State on behalf of the Museum of Nantes. Interestingly there is a photograph of this picture in Hawkin’s studio and it is frame in exactly the same e style as can be seen on ours. There has been something of resurgence in interest in the artist after the purchase of two of his works by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, who used this as an excuse to mount a retrospective of 25 pictures in 1992 (to which an illustrated catalogue was written). His work is housed in many public and private collections throughout Europe and beyond.