Achille Laugé

Printemps, amandiers en fleur dans un jardin

Oil on canvas: 20(h) x 16(w) in /

50.8(h) x 40.6(w) cm

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ACHILLE LAUGÉ

Arzens 1861 – 1944 Cailhau (Aude)

 

Printemps, amandiers en fleur dans un jardin

 

Signed lower right: A. Laugé

Oil on canvas: 20 x 16 in / 50.8 x 40.6 cm

Frame size: in / cm

 

Painted circa 1897

 

Provenance:

Albert Sarraut (1872-1962), childhood friend and collector of the artist’s work;

Mrs Marie Ferrage;

by inheritance in the 1960s to a private collection, Toulouse

 

To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Achille Laugé being prepared by Nicole Tamburini

 

 

The son of prosperous farmers, Achille Laugé spent his childhood in the village of Cailhau in Languedoc, not far from Carcassonne. After nearly a decade in Paris, he returned to Carcassonne in 1888 and seven years later settled in Cailhau, where he remained for the rest of his life. The rolling, sun-soaked landscape of Cailhau, with the snow-capped peaks of the Pyrenees rising in the distance, was the inspiration for Laugé’s finest landscapes.

 

Influenced by Seurat, Laugé composed his pictures with a modified Pointillist technique from 1888 to the mid-1890s. Thereafter he employed careful, cross-hatched brushstrokes. By 1905 he was applying pigments with a greater expressive freedom, using enlarged strokes and a thick impasto that brought him closer to traditional Impressionism.

 

In 1895 Laugé, helped by the local mason, built a house in Cailhau on land inherited from his father. His friend, the Occitan poet Achille Mir, called it ‘Le Mas da la Laousto’ (the Farmhouse of the Lark, or ‘l’Alouette’ in French)[1]. Like Monet in his Giverny paintings and Pissarro at Eragny, Laugé delighted in exploring landscape motifs which were close to him, both literally and emotionally. Nicole Tamburini comments that many of his Cailhau paintings were of scenes that could be reached in less than a quarter of an hour’s walk from his house[2].

 

Printemps, amandiers en fleur dans un jardin explores a favourite motif of Laugé: the coming of spring in the South, with delicate, fragrant almond blossom fretted against a blue sky. The artist captures the intense light which turns the new grass yellow-green and which dazzlingly reflects from the stone wall of the outbuildings anchoring the centre of the composition. Painted in 1897, this work has a greater freedom of brushwork than the more rigorously Pointillist canvases of 1893-95, but is underpinned by a serenity of composition. Laugé employs architecture with a precision that recalls the work of early Renaissance painters like Piero della Francesca. The pale gold houses of the Languedoc, built with thick walls to withstand both cold and intense summer heat, nestle into Laugé’s landscapes, man in harmony with nature. This geometry, however, is balanced by the exuberance of the flowering trees and bushes. Laugé’s friend, the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), remarked that his art combined both ‘sensibility and the mastery of reason’[3].

 

This painting was owned by the Radical politician Albert Sarraud (1872-1962), a childhood friend of Laugé; they both attended the Lycée de Carcassonne. Sarraud was Senator for Aude in 1907, Governor-General of French Indochina 1912-14 and 1917-19 and Minister for the Colonies in 1920. He served briefly as Prime Minister in 1933 and 1936. He retired from politics in 1940 to take control of his family’s newspaper, La Dépêche de Toulouse. Sarraud was a staunch supporter and collector of Laugé’s work.

 

 

 

 

Achille Laugé, Paysage de la Gardie près de Cailhau, 1902.

Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

 

ACHILLE LAUGÉ

Arzens 1861 – 1944 Cailhau (Aude)

 

 

Achille Laugé was born in Arzens in the Aude region of southern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. His parents were prosperous farmers who moved to the village of Cailhau near Carcassonne, where he spent most of his life. Apprenticed in 1878 to a pharmacist in Toulouse, Laugé studied painting part-time before going to Paris in 1881. He studied with Alexandre Cabanel and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Antoine Bourdelle, whom he had known in Toulouse, introduced him to Aristide Maillol ; the three remained close friends.

 

In 1888 Laugé returned to Carcassonne, but kept his Parisian contacts. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendents in 1894 and at an exhibition in Toulouse the same year in the company of the Nabis and Toulouse-Lautrec. The following year Laugé returned to Cailhau, where he spent the rest of his life. He had several one-man shows in Paris from 1907 to 1930.

 

In his earlier works Achille Laugé is clearly influenced by the work of Georges Seurat, whose controversial painting La Grande Jatte was exhibited in Paris in 1886. From 1888 until about 1896, Laugé composed his pictures with small points of colour. However, he appears never entirely to have accepted Seurat’s scientific approach to painting, choosing instead to concentrate on the primacy of colour rather than a strictly Pointillist approach. By the end of the nineteenth century Laugé had abandoned dots and dabs and painted his landscapes, portraits and still lifes with thin, systematically placed strokes resembling crosshatching.

 

After 1905 Laugé 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. Laugé was, at heart, a plein air painter, travelling around in his roulotte-atelier, a glass-sided studio on wheels, which allowed him to paint in all weathers and at all seasons. The countryside of the Languedoc was the inspiration for most of his work.

 

The work of Achille Laugé is represented in the Musée d’Orsay, Paris; the Musée Bourdelle, Paris; Musée Petiet, Limoux; the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Carcassonne; the Petit-Palais, Geneva and the Musée de Grenoble.

 

 

 

 

[1] Nicole Tamburini, Achille Laugé; le point, la ligne, la lumière, 2009, p.137.

[2] Tamburini, op. cit., p.54.

[3] ‘Un art à la fois de sensibilité émue et d’une raison maîtrisée’, in ‘Le peintre Achille Laugé’, Comoedia, 23rd June 1927.

ImpressionistAchille Laugé