1865-1925was a Swiss painter and printmaker associated with Les Nabis. He was an important figure in the development of the modern woodcut. He was born into a conservative middle class family in Lausanne, and there he attended College Cantonal, graduating with a degree in classical studies in 1882. In that year he moved to Paris to study art under Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger at the Academie Julian. He spent many hours in the Louvre, where he greatly admired the works of Holbein, Derer and Ingres; these artists would remain exemplars for Vallotton throughout his life. His earliest paintings, such as the Ingresque Portrait of Monsieur Ursenbach (1885), are firmly rooted in the academic tradition, and his self portrait of 1885 (seen at right) received an honorable mention at the Salon des artistes français in 1886. During the following decade Vallotton painted, wrote art criticism and made a number of prints. In 1891 he executed his first woodcut, a portrait of Paul Verlaine. The many woodcuts he produced during the 1890s were widely disseminated in periodicals and books in Europe as well as in the United States, and were recognized as radically innovative in printmaking. They established Vallotton as a leader in the revival of true woodcut as an artistic medium; in the western world, the relief print, in the form of commercial wood engraving, had long been mainly utilized unimaginatively as a medium for the reproduction of drawn or painted images and, latterly, photographs. Vallotton's starkly reductive woodcut style features large masses of undifferentiated black and areas of unmodulated white. While emphasizing outline and flat patterns, Vallotton generally made no use of the gradations and modeling traditionally produced by hatching. The influences of post-Impressionism, symbolism and the Japanese woodcut are apparent; a large exhibition of ukiyo-e prints had been presented at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1890, and Vallotton, like many artists of his era an enthusiast of Japonism, collected these prints. He depicted street crowds and demonstrations including several scenes of police attacking anarchists bathing women, portrait heads, and other subjects which he treated with a sardonic humor. His graphic art reached its highest development in Intimit's (Intimacies), a series of ten interiors published in 1898 by the Revue Blanche, which deal with tension between men and women. Vallotton's prints have been suggested as a significant influence on the graphic art of Edvard Munch, Aubrey Beardsley, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner .By 1892 he was affiliated with Les Nabis, a group of young artists that included Pierre Bonnard, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Maurice Denis, and Edouard Vuillard, with whom Vallotton was to form a lifelong friendship. During the 1890s, when Vallotton was closely allied with the avant-garde, his paintings reflected the style of his woodcuts, with flat areas of color, hard edges, and simplification of detail.
ID: 45742 The Five Painters mk185
Oil on canvas