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Gaston La Touche was born in St Cloud in 1854. La Touche had no formal artistic training.

La Touche came into contact with the artists Edouard Manet and Felix Bracquemond, as well as leading artistic and literary figures including Emile Zola. While Manet had no direct influence on La Touche’s work, they shared in common, as did Zola, a commitment to presenting the truth through their art. In his early work La Touche depicted bleak scenes of social realism, including representations of everyday lives of miners and labourers.

1890 seems to have been a watershed for La Touche. He is likely to have been influenced by Puvis de Chavanne, the founder of Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, as he decided to align himself with this society, in preference to the Paris Salon. He also made a remarkable departure in his work, strongly influenced by Bracquemond, and moved away from his somber style towards more uplifting settings of parks, gardens and interiors, and subject matter such as balls and social gatherings as well as allegorical and mythological subjects. The lighter palette and aesthetic of these works now define his oeuvre. His representation of nature through light and colour chimes with the approach of the Impressionists, while La Touche’s work also has an added element of fantasy that sets him apart from the group.

La Touche exhibited widely in Paris, at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the Société des Peintres et Sculptures, as well as in London at the Fine Art Society. He was awarded the Légion d’honneur in 1900.

His work is held by the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, the Walters Art Museum, Maryland.

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