Posts Tagged ‘Impressionism’

Adolph Valette- Albert Square 1910

I’m always interested in how artists of all kinds use their influences, about they evolve their own style from the sources of their inspiration.  Back in August, I wrote here about the British painter L.S. Lowry, the man best known for his matchstick men figures and the urban landscapes of his native Manchester.  He is generally considered a self-taught painter despite the many years he spent taking evening classes at the Manchester Municipal School of Art while he worked his days as a rent collector. It’s even more surprising that the critics still attach this self-taught tag to Lowry once you begin to look at the work of the primary influence on him, Adolphe Valette.   In looking at Valette’s paintings, you can see how Valette’s style and eye had a tremendous influence on Lowry.

Valette was a Frenchman who arrived in England in 1904, carrying with him the influence of the Impressionist movement that was in full bloom in France at the time.  He eventually ended up in the north of England, to Manchester, a city at the center of the British industrial revolution.  It’s smoke-filled and foggy landscape provided the perfect inspiration for the hazy and  evocative paintings of Valette and his student, Lowry.  Valette taught for many years there until returning to France in 1928, where he died in 1942 at the age 0f 66.

I’m  surprised that Valette didn’t gain more notoriety for his work , that his name and work wasn’t well known before Lowry’s popularity brought him to light.  The images that I can find are beautiful and strong, rivaling much of the work of his better known Impressionist contemporaries.  I suppose that painting and showing in Manchester in the early 1900’s didn’t provide much access to the salons and museums of the greater art world.  At least Lowry’s recognition has pulled him into the present, giving his influential works greater influence and making them the subject of study.

As it should be.



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Every picture shows a spot with which the artist himself has fallen in love.

— Alfred Sisley



I’ve  loved the Impressionist landscapes of Alfred Sisley (1839-1899) for some time now.  I always liked the fact that he was solely a landscape artist that worked en plein air, never feeling the need or desire to paint still lives or figures.  He found his avenue of expression in the landscapes that he painted and always in the Impressionist style which fit his found voice.  There’s a sort of purity in his loyalty to his style and subject that I find endearing.

When I came across the quote at the top of this post, I thought at first he was talking about a physical location where the artist had actually fallen in love.  But reading it again, I realized that he meant a spot in each painting where the artist sees that stroke, that shape, that bit of color that made him want to express himself in paint in the first place.  I knew exactly what he meant at that moment. 

I am often asked to pick a favorite painting when I am at exhibits of my work, a question that I am often unable to answer fully. It is just for what Sisley expressed with these words that this remains juch an impossible task.  In nearly every painting that I have chosen to show over the years there is that spot that would shine out to me whenever I would look at it, a spot on the surface where the work seemed to take on its life for me.    It is usually something small and subtle, a small and simple line or the smudge of one brushstroke in what might seem an innocuous field of color.  Small but oh so important because when it meets my eye it rekindles a flame that is indeed love.

It’s a difficult thing to explain especially about a painting, something that many see only as an object.  But seeing that spot where it flares outward alive brings the artist that same excitement that seeing the one you love walk into the room brings to those in love. Seeing that spot in the painting is like meeting the eyes of your love and saying so much without uttering a word.  That may be the best way to put it.

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