Collection Emile Chouanard (1861-1930), France
Lucie Chouanard Goiran (by descent from the above)
Philip Goiran, USA (by descent from the above)
Brussels, Galerie des Artistes Français, Gaston La Touche, 18 February 1932 – 6 March 1932, no. 8
This delightfully painted scene comprises all that is important and most well-known of Gaston La Touche’s paintings: the autumnal setting, which was his preferred season; swans at play; a joyful landscape in the distance with satyrs running through a meadow; a beautiful woman with her baby and a man (the poet) happily contemplating his life, whilst cupids tear at the red autumnal leaves, and Pan plays his flute. The present work was painted at the artist’s home in St.Cloud, just outside Paris, for the great art collector Emile Chouanard, who lived on Avenue Montaigne. Chouanard was one of La Touche’s most important patrons, and other works by La Touche from the collection are found in museums in the United States today.
During his long, prolific career, La Touche was awarded a number of official commissions for large-scale decorative schemes at various French ministries. These large canvases and murals are characterised by glowing colours and broad brushstrokes. The present work is a smaller version of a composition belonging to one of such series – a large-scale decorative program of four pieces that were executed around 1910 for the Parisian Sénat and depict allegorical figures of the Poet, Painter, Musician the Sculptor.
The painting demonstrates the artist’s stylistic shift after the 1890s, his move from sober realism, inspired by Zola’s novels, to idealistic compositions of peaceful parks and fanciful gardens dotted with fountains, streams, and forests populated by swans, water nymphs, and fauns. During this period, La Touche employed techniques reminiscent of those of his fellow artists Henri Martin and Henri le Sidaner by using a palette composed of carefully studied colour complements and contrasts and creating multi-coloured surfaces and a magical atmosphere.