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L' Automne, ca. 1895
Watercolor, gouache and ink in pen and washes on paper with brush and spraying techniques.
290 x 115 mm
Signed lower right 'F. Toussaint'
Private collection, Liège, Belgium
The present drawing likely stems from a series depicting the Four Seasons. It is an examplary representation of Autumn in the most delicate and iconic Art Nouveau style. After studying in Brussels under Jean-Francois Portaels, Toussaint left for Paris at the age of eighteen. In Paris he befriended his compatriot Alfred Stevens and immersed himself in the new Art Nouveau Style. As by instinct, this Belgian painter naturally experimented with whiplash-lines and the visual vocabulary of the fauna and flora. Toussaint therefore, should under no circumstances be regarded as a follower of the movement, but as a young pioneer of Art Nouveau aesthetics. In the 1890s he was comissioned several important advertising posters and decorative panels in this style, and was counted by his contemporaries among the leading ranks of the movement. Hand-painted works by Fernand Toussaint from this period are, however, rare and largely unknown. The present drawing demonstrates Toussaint's position, alongside Privat Livemont, as one of the most important Belgian representatives of the Art Nouveau, and shows him to be -both in quality and in beauty- an equal of Alphonse Mucha. A prolific painter, Toussaint would later adopt a post-impressionist style and played an important role in the development of Art Deco aesthetics.