Monday, April 29, 2013

Armand Gautier (1825-1894)

From the archives of All things Ironing - Ironers in oils.

Amand Gautier (1825-1894), a French painter and lithographer, he began as an apprentice lithographer but displayed such a talent for drawing that in 1845 his parents enrolled him at the Académie in Lille, where he studied under the sculptor Augustin-Phidias Cadet de Beaupré.

Armand Gautier - A woman ironing - etching
from Eaux Fortes Modernes 1864.
Armand Gautier - A woman ironing - oil on canvas
Musee des Beaux-Arts, Caen, France
In 1847–50 he worked in the studio of the Neo-classical painter François Souchon (1787–1857).
In 1852 he received a scholarship to study at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris with Léon Cogniet.

He frequented the Brasserie Andler where he met many of the artists who exhibited at the Salon, particularly the Realists.
Gautier himself made his début at the Salon in 1853 with Thursday Promenade. He shared living-quarters with Paul Gachet, a close friend whom he had known from his days in Lille. Gachet, who was a doctor, introduced Gautier to the environment of such hospitals as La Salpêtrière, and this influenced the direction his art was to take.

Armand Gautier - Salpetriere - lithograph 1857
showing personifications of dementia, megalomania, acute mania,
melancholia, idiocy, hallucination, erotomania and paralysis.
in the gardens of the Hospice de la Salpêtrière.
He was authorized to execute a large number of studies of lunatics in the specialized asylum, continuing the tradition begun some 30 years earlier by Gericault with his scientifically realistic series of monomaniacs.
Gautier was fascinated by this experience and, as a result, painted his best-known work, the Madwomen of La Salpêtrière (destr. 1870). When the painting was exhibited in 1857 at the Salon in Paris, it was a resounding success, acclaimed not only by Maxime Du Camp but also by Jules-Antoine Castagnary, Théophile Gautier and Charles Baudelaire.

The originality of its conception and the virtuosity of its technique made the painting a significant example of Realism, worthy of being placed in the same category as the works of his master and friend Courbet. Their friendship was such that in 1867 Courbet painted Gautier’s portrait (Lille, Mus. B.-A.).
Jean Desire Gustave Courbet (1819–1877) - Gautier Portrait - oil
During this time he actively sought a patron, and eventually found one in Louis-Joachim Gaudibert (1838–70), a wealthy shipowner from Le Havre who had already helped Monet and Eugène Boudin.
Gautier became friends with these artists who were interested in unconventional ways of painting; he was particularly close to Monet, whom he advised early in the latter’s career.
He took part in the first Salon des Refusés in 1863, exhibiting The Adulteress (1860; untraced). During this time financial needs prompted him to paint portraits for the Salons, where they were favourably reviewed by critics, who compared him to Carolus-Duran. Along with Courbet, he was a member of the revolutionary movement of the Commune and because of his activities was arrested and sentenced in June 1871.
He began exhibiting again at the Salon from 1874, showing portraits, still-lifes and religious scenes, and continued to do so until 1888, but these works did not have the conviction of his earlier ones. In his last years he became a recluse in the village of Ecouen and was eventually put in a retirement home by friends.
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