Louis Anquetin Biography

(Was a French Painter)

Birthday: January 26, 1861 (Aquarius)

Born In: Étrépagny, France

Louis Anquetin was a French painter noted for his association with the Post-Impressionist movement and for his works depicting scenes of Paris at night done in the Cloisonnism style. Anquetin took art lessons from French painters Léon Bonnat and Fernand Cormon and worked closely and exhibited with noted artists like Émile Bernard, Vincent van Gogh, Charles Angrand, Camille Pissarro, Georges Seurat, Paul Signac, Paul Gauguin and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Although Anquetin remained active in the Impressionist movement of the time, he became interested in the works of Flemish masters in his later years. He along with Bernard came up with a post-Impressionist painting style called cloisonnism that was inspired by stained glass and Japanese ukiyo-e art and includes use of bold and flat forms separated by thick dark contours. L’Avenue de Clichy, an early work of Anquetin, was inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e prints. His popularity however waned after he abandoned the modern movements and took to studying the methods of Old Masters. His works such as Rinaldo and Armida done after the mid-1890s were particularly Rubensian and allegorical in nature. He also wrote a book on Rubens later in his life.

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Quick Facts

French Celebrities Born In January

Died At Age: 71

Born Country: France

Artists French Men

Died on: August 19, 1932

place of death: Paris, France

Childhood & Early Life

Louis Anquetin was born on January 26, 1861, in Étrépagny, France, as the only child of George Anquetin, a wealthy butcher, and his wife Rose-Felicite Chauvet. Encouraged by his parents, Anquetin started drawing at an early age and soon developed interest in the art.

He enrolled at the Lycée Pierre Corneille in Rouen in 1872 and completed his graduation from there in 1880. During his tenure at school, he met Edouard Dujardin and the two became friends. Dujardin went on to become a noted French writer, counted among the early users of the stream of consciousness narrative mode.

After a brief military service with the 6th Cavalry Regiment of Dragoons in Chartres, Anquetin resolved to become an artist. He convinced his parents and after getting a nod from them, he relocated to Paris in 1882. There he started taking art lessons at the studio of French portrait painter Léon Bonnat who encouraged freedom of expression and execution. Anquetin met Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec at the studio of Bonnat. A year later, Anquetin and Toulouse-Lautrec came under the tutelage of Fernand Cormon, a leading historical painter of modern France. There they met and became friends with Émile Bernard and Vincent Van Gogh.

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Early Career

Anquetin commenced his artistic career under the guidance of Van Gogh with whom he developed good friendship. Anquetin and Bernard worked in a workshop in 1884 and Anquetin discovered Impressionism in the following year after meeting French painter and founder of impressionist painting Claude Monet, who was considered a key precursor to modernism.

As students of the Atelier Cormon art school of Fernand Cormon, Anquetin and his other classmates often used each other as models. For instance Anquetin made drawings of Toulouse-Lautrec and pastel study of Bernard in 1886 and 1887 respectively while Toulouse-Lautrec made portrait of Bernard in 1885, that of Anquetin in 1886 and of Van Gough in 1887.

Sometime in 1886 Anquetin along with Bernard and Toulouse-Lautrec exhibited some of their works at the Café du Tambourin. In late 1887, Van Gough arranged an exhibition together with Anquetin, Bernard and possibly Toulouse-Lautrec as well, at the Grand-Bouillon Restaurant du Chalet. Anquetin and Bernard sold their first paintings there. Noted visitors like Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and his son Lucien, French Neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac and French post-Impressionist artist Georges Seurat attended the show. It was during this time that Anquetin met Seurat and got introduced to Divisionism.

Anquetin and Bernard developed a style of post-Impressionist painting around 1887 called cloisonnism. The term was coined by Dujardin in March 1888 on the occasion of the Salon des Indépendants. The style that includes use of bold and flat forms separated by dark contours was partly inspired by stained glass and partly by Japanese ukiyo-e art. The separation of colours that forms a distinguishing feature of the style reflects an appreciation for discontinuity that is characteristic of Modernism. Anquetin, Bernard and other artists like Paul Gauguin and Paul Sérusier started painting in this style during the late 19th century. Two works of Anquetin made in this style includes Reading Woman and Avenue de Clichy: Five O’Clock in the Evening. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov argued in 1981 that that since Van Gogh's famous 1888 oil painting Cafe Terrace at Night displays a night scene as well as a funnel-like perspective and features dominant blue-yellow tonality, it was at least partially inspired by Anquetin’s Avenue de Clichy: 5 o'clock in the evening.

It is generally believed that many of Anquetin’s artworks have inspired several legendary artists in executing their works. For instance his work Le Faucher is said to be the inspiration behind Van Gough’s work Les Moissons; At the Circus created by Anquetin in 1887 was the inspiration behind Toulouse-Lautrec’s 1888 painting At the Circus Fernando; Anquetin’s 1890 painting La Dame en Rouge was the inspiration behind Paul Gauguin’s 1891 work La Dame a la Robe Rouge; and Anquetin’s 1892 work Madeline was the inspiration behind Pablo Picasso’s portrait of Gertrude Stein that was created in 1906.

With time, Anquetin rose to prominence with his Cloisonnism style artworks. Anquetin along with Bernard, Gauguin, Leon Faucher, Louis Roy, Daniel George, Charles Laval and Charles Filiger took part in a major exhibition in 1889 at the Paris Exposition. He was also invited to participate in the annual exhibition of the Les XX group in Brussels where his works received critical acclaim. His works also garnered critical acclaim from art critic Felix Feneon. That year he moved his studio from Montmartre to Rue de Rome. There he started executing paintings depicting mysterious women of the night. One such noted painting of Anquetin was Woman on the Champs-Elysees by Night (1889–1893) which depicted the piquant world of lesbian relationship.

A major exhibition was held by him in 1891 at the Salon des Independents. Ten of his best works including Woman on the Champs-Elysees by Night showcased in the exhibition garnered high critical acclaim.

Later Works

Anquetin visited Belgium and Holland along with Toulouse-Lautrec and Joseph Albert in 1894 and was greatly influenced by Old Master paintings of eminent painters like Flemish Baroque tradition painter Peter Paul Reubens and Dutch Golden Age painters Rembrandt van Rijn and Franz Hals. After seeing works of these past masters, Anquetin found his paintings to be more opaque and laborious compared to the stupendous Old Master paintings. Anquetin also discussed the matter with French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, considered a prominent painter in development of the Impressionist style.

Anquetin eventually opted to study the techniques of the Old Masters and abandoned the modern movements. Such move of the artist however fell him from the public’s eye. While he continued to produce oil paintings, most of his colleagues by that time switched to using pastel considering oil paintings as dull. Anquetin remarked that his contemporaries do not lack the talent but the necessary knowledge of techniques and understanding required to execute oil paintings. His rejection of modern art and switch to classicism led other artists and critics to turn their back on him while only Toulouse-Lautrec remained his friend.

Anquetin was of the opinion that the Old Masters had deep understanding of anatomy which allowed them to paint figures without the requirement of models. He thus studied anatomy for two years from 1894 in the laboratory of Professor Arroux in Clamart. He also sought to find out the techniques of the Old Masters and thus experimented with oil techniques. Later works of the artist thus became more classical and after the mid-1890s his works were particularly Rubensian and allegorical in nature. One such noted work of Anquetin is Rinaldo and Armida.

He befriended Elemis Biurges, Stuart Merrill, Paul Fort, Armand Point and Elemis Bourges after relocating to Bourron-Marlotte. In 1901, Cormon invited him to create four panels on the north wall of Hotel de ville de Tours representing Balzac, Rabelais, Descartes and Alfred de Vigny after Cormon was commissioned to paint murals in the hotel. The paintings of French painter Francois Schommer later replaced these works in 1907.

In 1907, Anquetin met a young artist called Jacques Maroger. The latter, who was also interested in understanding the oil-based media of the Old Masters, came under the tutelage of Anquetin and worked under his direction till his death in 1932. Anquetin guided Maroger in the study of anatomy, drawing and master painting techniques. Anquetin also authored a book on Rubens. It was published in 1924. As a teacher, Anquetin taught his painting techniques to several other students and also delivered lectures on the subject at the People’s University. He guided Maroger and another student, Camille Versini, during their research on different varnishes and painting methods with chemist Marc Havel.

A gifted draughtsman, Anquetin also made tapestry cartoons for two historic tapestry factories namely the Gobelins Manufactory in Paris, France and the Beauvais Manufactory in Beauvais, France.

Personal Life

In 1906, Anquetin married Berthe Coquinot, widow of an officer. The couple lived in a magnificent home in Vine Street that was designed by Charles Blanche.

He died on August 19, 1932, and by that time, he was nearly forgotten. A few months before Anquetin died, his friend Bernard created his portrait as a token of admiration and signed Louis Anquetin, a token of my deepest admiration.

See the events in life of Louis Anquetin in Chronological Order

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