Magnetic, provocative, daring: meet Félix Vallotton (1865–1925). We reveal the vision of a masterful painter and printmaker who captured the emotional undercurrents of Paris at the turn of the last century.
By the end of the 19th century, Paris was the unrivalled capital of the Western art world. Impressionism had transformed the visual arts, and Post-Impressionism was flourishing in its wake. Meanwhile, new boulevards and parks had modernised the medieval city, while theatres and department stores provided endless opportunities for entertainment and consumption. Artists, alongside scientists and industrialists, were seen by many as the leaders, the avant-garde, of a new society.
Into this dynamic world arrived the 16-year-old Swiss artist, Félix Vallotton, who would make Paris his home for the rest of his life. He became closely involved with a group of artists known as Les Nabis, which included Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, adopting their decorative painterly language and sharing their interest in journalistic illustration and Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Offering witty and often unsettling observations of domestic and political life, Vallotton’s woodcuts were frequently published in the press and he is now considered one of the greatest printmakers of his age. As his work evolved, the sharp realism and cool linearity of his later style – drawn from such sources as Holbein and Ingres – made him one of the most distinctive artists of the early 20th century.
This is the first comprehensive survey of Vallotton’s career to be held in the UK. Through more than 80 paintings and prints, we explore an extraordinary body of work: from compelling portraits, magnetic still-lifes, luminescent landscapes and bitingly satirical prints, to interior scenes which reverberate with psychological tension.
Often anticipating the emotionally charged paintings of Edward Hopper and the films of Alfred Hitchcock, these works demonstrate a legacy of vision that carried into the 20th century.