La Touche, Gaston (1854-1913) by Scholes, Robert

Gaston La Touche (1854 – 1913) The following information is quoted from the pages devoted to La Touche and maintained by Roy Brindley & Selina Baring Maclennan, with their permission. Born at St Cloud, near Paris, on the 29th October 1854, Gaston La Touche showed an early vocation for an artistic career. From the age of about ten years, he spent every available moment of recreation in drawing, and finally managed to obtain permission from his parents to take lessons from a M. Paul, who quickly discovered his natural aptitude and encouraged the young boy to persevere with his studies. Interrupted by the Franco-Prussian war of 1870, the lessons ceased when the family fled to Normandy. La Touche never received any further formal training, but he came under the influence of two older painters, one of whom in particular was to have a profound and far-reaching effect on the development of European painting. The two were Félix Bracquemond and Edouard Manet. After the Paris Commune and the war, Manet, Degas and a group of painters, critics, poets and authors used to gather regularly at the Café de la Nouvelle-Athènes (c 1877-79) to discuss art and other topical matters. La Touche also frequented this cafe where those he met included the realist writer Emile Zola; Duranty, a critic, and Theodore Duret, a politician, collector and champion of the Impressionists. After 1890, however, there was a radical shift in the subjet matter, palette and technique of La Touche’s work. During the six years to 1896, he gradually, yet steadily evolved from realism to the idealism that was to be the hallmark of his oeuvre; the creation of a harmonious, luminous and charming world of parks and gardens, nymphs and fountains, fireworks and fetes-champetres, in which nature is depicted in terms of colour and light, yet with an element of fantasy which sets his work aside from that of the earlier Impressionist Group.

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