One of the foremost Post-Impressionist painters, Gustave Loiseau was profoundly influenced by the great masterpieces of the Impressionists. A champion of painting the landscape en plein air, Loiseau embraced the use of bold colour as he explored and expanded the Impressionist style.
Loiseau, a butcher’s son, was born in Paris in 1865. As a young man he was apprenticed to a decorator, a job he particularly disliked, but his interest in art, especially landscape painting, was enhanced when his parents moved back to their hometown of Pontoise in 1884. Pontoise was important in French painting at the time, having been extensively depicted by Pissarro and Cézanne.
In 1887 Loiseau received a legacy from his grandmother which enabled him to give up his job as a decorator and devote his life to painting. Back in Paris, Loiseau was taught for a short period by the illustrious Jean-Louis Forain, but he did not appreciate the more academic tendencies that Forain promoted. Loiseau rebelled against the traditional practices of painting and joined the famous artists colony at Pont-Aven in Brittany in 1890. After a period of pointillist experimentation in the early 1890s Loiseau re-found his pure landscape ideals painting in a Post-Impressionist manner painting ‘en plein air’, directly from nature. At Pont-Aven he became companions with Henry Moret, Maxime Maufra and Paul Gauguin and under their influence, Loiseau embraced the use of bold colour and sought to expand and seek new aspects of the Impressionist style. Loiseau learnt a great deal first hand from Paul Gauguin, but his work also shows a debt to Sisley and Pissarro. He returned to Paris in 1891 where he began to exhibit his work, with his first submission accepted at the Fifth Exhibition of Impressionist and Symbolist Painters.
With no formal artistic training, Gustave Loiseau shaped his style through the observation of nature and by careful study of his Impressionist forebears. In 1895, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir introduced the young painter to their art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who signed an exclusive contract with Loiseau two years later. Under Durand-Ruel’s encouragement, and with the financial independence that ensued, Loiseau was able to travel to various landscapes outside Paris, from the Brittany coastline at Pont-Aven, to the small picturesque towns along the River Seine and the River Yonne.
In his later years, Loiseau continued to travel widely and spent a great deal of time in Paris where he had a studio on the Quai d’Anjou on the Île Saint-Louis, the adjacent island on the Seine to that of Notre-Dame. During the summer months, Loiseau would travel extensively to Normandy, Brittany and the picturesque river towns where he spent his youth. His later years are characterised by the systematic exploration of a series of views of the same subject, a method deeply indebted to Monet. Focused upon a single compositional device, the artist thoroughly investigated the different atmospheric conditions of one view point or landscape, capturing his subjects in contrasting seasons.
Like his Impressionist forebears, Loiseau was a champion of painting the landscape ‘en plein air’. In his quest to create movement and light, in his mature years Loiseau developed a distinct ‘cross hatching’ technique, called ‘en treillis’, which resulted in the supple and ephemeral quality for which his work is known. These later works, characterised by a homogeneous and yet vibrating colour structure formed through staccato-like brushwork, was developed from Loiseau’s influence of the pointillism of Seurat and Signac. Identifiable through a rich surface, composed using spontaneous brushwork as the pigment is layered upon the canvas, Loiseau’s later works reveal the artists experimental nature and exemplifies Loiseau’s instinctive use of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist techniques in his quest to capture nature as he experienced it.