FElix Vallotton

Painter against Time


Born in Lausanne on December 28, 1865, Félix Vallotton is the third child of a pharmacist from Vaadt and the daughter of a craftsman in Bern.
After an unhappy childhood, about which Vallotton later writes the novel La vie meurtrière (The Murderous Life), he studies classics at college.
Thanks to his extraordinary talent, Vallotton is admitted to advanced art courses. He spends much of his free time at the city’s museums, studying especially Swiss painting of the 19th century.
From the summer of 1910 until his death, Vallotton paints some 40 sunsets as well as numerous landscapes at twilight. Most of these paintings show motifs from the region around Honfleur, a fishing village in Normandy, where Vallotton regularly spends his summers as of 1909.
1882. Moves to Paris to study art.
1899. Marries Gabrielle Rodrigues-Henriques, whose brother manages the renowned Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in Paris. Freed from financial worries, he moves from the Rive gauche to the affluent, bourgeois Rive droite.
1891. First woodcuts. Now a successful and well-known artist, he is commissioned to do illustrations for books and major magazines.
1898. Vallotton’s most important series of woodcuts issued by Revue Blanche publishers.
1892. Vallotton joins the leading artists’ group “Les Nabis”, regularly exhibiting with them until 1903.
In June 1917, Vallotton and other artists journey to the battle front in the Haute Champagne where they see the village of Souain, which had been razed to the ground during the Battle of Marne. He makes preliminary sketches and later, in Honfleur, executes his Souain paintings.
1920. Due to ill health, Vallotton begins spending his winters on the Côte d’Azur. During the last years of his life, he travels to Normandy, to the valley of the Seine and to the Dordogne and Loire rivers.
December 29, 1925: death of Félix Vallotton in a Parisian clinic, the day after his 60th birthday.