Kaplan Gallery, London
Commander Jeoffroy Littleton Lowis, London (acquired from the above, 1966)
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2006
London, Kaplan Gallery, Achille Laugé, March 9-26, 1966
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné by Nicole Tamburini.
Achille Laugé was the son of well-to-do farmers who moved to Cailhau near Carcassonne, where he spent most of his life. Laugé began studies in Toulouse in 1878, and went to Paris in 1881. At the Ecole des Beaux-Arts he studied with Alexandre Cabanel and Jean-Paul Laurens. There, Antoine Bourdelle, whom Laugé had known in Toulouse, introduced him to Aristide Maillol, and the three maintained a long and fruitful friendship. In 1888, after seven years in Paris, including a term of military service, Laugé returned to the south and established himself at Carcassonne. Finally, in 1895, he returned to Cailhau where he spent the rest of his life.
Laugé’s time in Paris spanned the critical years from 1886 to1888 (Seurat's La Grande Jatte was first exhibited amidst much controversy in 1886) and his contact with Neo-Impressionism should not be underestimated. In 1894, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants, as well as at a Toulouse exhibition with de Bonnard, Maurice Denis, Sérusier, Roussel, Toulouse-Lautrec and Vuillard. In addition, he held several one-man shows in Paris from 1907 to 1930.
It was after his departure from Paris that Laugé developed his divisionist technique, following the lead of Seurat and the Pointillists. Although Laugé never adopted Seurat’s scientific attitude, his interest in the primacy and division of color resulted in work with a vivid, translucent palette. From 1888 until about 1896, Laugé composed his pictures with small points of color. At the end of the century, he abandoned the dots and dabs and painted his landscapes, portraits, and still-lives with thin, systematically placed strokes resembling crosshatching. After 1905, he applied his pigments more freely, with enlarged strokes and thick impasto that brought him closer to a traditional impressionist technique whilst maintaining his ability to paint the translucence of southern light.
Our painting, Verger de l’Ariste, though circa 1925, seems to lean more toward Laugé’s earlier divisionist technique. Here the artist depicts an orchard flowering in early spring with bright, luminous colors applied in quick dabs. In the background, one can see country houses, easily discernable by the bright orange of their roofs. The light blue of the sky, and the greens and yellows of the field, along with the cottony white of the blossoming trees create a vibrant and cheerful painting that seems to vibrate with energy.