The Ball by Gaston la Touche (French, 1854 - 1913)
Gaston la Touche
French, 1854 - 1913

The Ball

Oil on cradled panel
23 1/4 x 23 1/2 inches (59.06 x 59.69 centimeters)

Signed lower left: Gaston la Touche

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Gaston la Touche (French, 1854 - 1913)

A painter who fused the charm and elegance of classical and fête galante themes in his art, Gaston la Touche’s greatest success came during the 1890s. He became one of the first artists to follow the lead of Ernest Meissonier and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes in the formation of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and their alternative Salon at the Palais de l’Industrie. This change in venue brought a change in la Touche’s art: he abandoned the somber domestic scenes that occupied him during the 1880s and adopted a soft palette, Impressionist touch, and more joyous subjects. His works from this period can be compared to those of Watteau: images of women in flowing chiffon dresses, lush parks with fountains and mythological sculpture, nymphs mingling with eighteenth-century figures, commedia dell’arte characters and lovers conversing in sumptuous interiors.

Although the art of an earlier century inspired la Touche’s subjects, his painting technique was thoroughly modern: his friends Bracquemond and Manet, the latter of whom included him in his Bar at the Folies Bergère, advised him. The present work is an excellent example of his approach: groups of dancers are painted in thin strokes of soft color over a burnt sienna ground. The result is an image that is at once delicate and rich.

Selected Museum Collections:
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Alençon; Dayton Art Institute, OH; Musée de l’Ancien Evêché, Evreux; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Le Mans; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Marseille; Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Petit Palais, Paris; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen; Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Valenciennes; Musée national du château et des Trianons, Versailles

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