Branche d'amandier en fleur
Oil on canvas: 12.6(h) x 8.7(w) in / 32.1(h) x 22.2(w) cm
Signed upper right: A. Laugé
Arzens 1861 – 1944 Cailhau
Branche d'amandier en fleur
Signed upper right: A. Laugé
Oil on canvas: 12 ⅝ x 8 ¾ in / 32.1 x 22.2 cm
Frame size: 19 ¼ x 15 ½ in / 48.9 x 39.4 cm
In a Louis XV style pastel frame
Painted circa 1893
Dr Victor Gaujon, Carcassonne, France,
then by descent to his nephew and heir, Dr Paul Bertrou
Limoux, Musée Petiet, Art vivant d’hier et d’aujourd’hui, Hommage à Laugé, 5th September- 12th October 1958, no.11, as La branche d’amandier
Toulouse, Musée des Augustins, Achille Laugé et ses amis Bourdelle and Maillol, 30th May-5th October 1961, no.33, as La branche d’amandier
Kochi, The Museum of Art, Georges Seurat et le Néo-Impressionnisme: 1885-1905, 2nd June-14th July 2002, no.103, illus. p.214; this exhibition then travelled to Utsunomiya Museum of Art, 21st July-1st September 2002; Kyoto, The National Museum of Modern Art, 10th September-20th October 2002; Tokyo, Seiji Togo Memorial Yasuda Kasai Museum of Art, 26th October-8th December 2002
Douai, Musée de la Chartreuse, Achille Laugé, le point, la ligne, la lumière, 26th February-6th June 2010, no.66
Nicole Tamburini, Achille Laugé, le point, la ligne, la lumière, exh. cat., Silvana Editoriale, 2009, no.66, illus. in colour p.94
To be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the work of Achille Laugé being prepared by Nicole Tamburini
This small, exquisite canvas exhibits the finest Pointillist technique of the three paintings represented in this collection. Minute dots of pink, blue and white make up the soft, powdery background, while white and blue blend in the foreground to form the almost abstract tablecloth; both planes allow space for the canvas to show through, creating a scintillating surface. Delicately defined in blue, the blossoms of the flowering almond branch seem to shimmer and dissolve into shadow against the cool interior.
Displayed in Japan in 2002 as part of the exhibition, Georges Seurat et le Néo-Impressionnisme, Branche d'amandier en fleur is described by Nicole Tamburini as ‘undoubtedly the most Japanese style of his still lifes, the artist combines the delicate graphics of the branch with the division of colour reduced to the essentials. The composition defines a zigzag line; the horizontal indicated by the flower placed on the table continues with the oblique branch in the vase and ends with the red signature, to which the yellow heart of the daisy at the bottom left responds. The finesse of the colours: white and pink-orange harmony associated with blue-gray tones, the simplicity of the layout, the empty background, or the hardly suggested table-top; everything evokes the art of the masters of printmaking.’
Japanese art informed Laugé’s genius for seizing the essence of a shape, as well as his instinct for decorative effect, and its restrained aesthetic retained its appeal throughout his career. Tamburini illuminates, ‘Laugé’s still lifes - especially those painted around 1893-1895 - bear witness to a Japanese influence. He certainly saw l’Exposition rétrospective de l’art japonais at the George Petit gallery when he was in Paris in 1883 or the Salon annuel des peintres japonais organized by the Union centrale des Arts décoratifs at the Palais de l’Industrie in 1883 and 1884. The publication created in 1888 by S Bing, Le Japon artistique, was widely circulated among avant-garde painters…He also had several illustrated Japanese albums of flowers and animals in his library, as well as collections of prints.’
Arzens 1861 – 1944 Cailhau
Achille Guillaume Laugé was born in Arzens in the Aude region of southern France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Achille was the third child of Pierre and Catherine (née Gazel), prosperous farmers who settled in the village of Cailhau near Carcassonne, where the artist spent most of his life. Laugé attended the municipal school at Cailhau, where he began to paint, followed by the Lycée de Carcassonne, where he studied drawing under Jean Jalabert (1815-1900). At his parents’ request, Laugé undertook internships at pharmacies in Limoux and Carcassonne in 1877, before being apprenticed in 1878 to a pharmacist in Toulouse. While there, he attended classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he met Antoine Bourdelle (1861-1929), Henri Marre (1858-1927) and Henri Martin (1860-1943). The four friends decided to study at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts in Paris. Laugé arrived in the capital at the end of 1881 and registered as a pupil of Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889) at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts the following year. Here Bourdelle introduced him to Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), with whom he studied under Jean-Paul Laurens (1838-1921) from 1883, and the three remained close friends, often sharing rooms and studios in Paris to combine their scarce resources.
Laugé carried out his military service in the Infantry from 1885 to 1888, permitted to continue his art education in Paris provided that he return to the Babylone barracks, near Les Invalides, every evening. Though dissatisfied with the teaching at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Laugé and his friends were perfectly placed to witness avant-garde developments at the centre of the art world, in particular the second exhibition of the Salon des Artistes Indépendents of 1886, featuring George Seurat’s controversial Un dimanche après-midi à l’île de la Grande Jatte, as a result of which the anarchist art critic, Félix Fénéon, devised the term ‘neo-impressionist’.
In 1888, Laugé returned to Carcassonne, and seven years later settled in Cailhau, where he remained for the rest of his life surrounded by a small circle of friends who supported and encouraged him throughout his career. 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. In 1891, Laugé married Marie-Agnes Boyer, with whom he had four children, later building a family house known as l’Alouette on land inherited from his father. Laugé kept his Parisian contacts and 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. He also had several one-man shows in Paris from 1907 to 1930.
In his earlier works, Laugé is clearly influenced by Seurat. From 1888 until about 1896, he 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.
In 1916, Laugé moved into a studio in the former Palais de Justice at Alet-les-Bains, about fifteen miles from his house at Cailhau. He used floral motifs in his designs for tapestries for the Gobelins factory, notably in the elaborate borders to a set of tapestries of the Four Seasons, executed by Laugé 1915-19. In 1919 Laugé was commissioned by M. Castel, Mayor of Lézignan and Député of Aude, to decorate his Château de Gailhadet, near Mirepoix. From 1926, Laugé rented a fisherman’s cottage in Collioure every summer, frequently meeting Henri Martin, with whom he remained friends. During the Occupation in 1940, he retired to the University campus of Toulouse.
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; Musée Fabre, Montpellier; the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Narbonne; the Musée de Grenoble; the Petit-Palais, Geneva and the National Gallery, Washington.
Achille Laugé, Autoportrait au béret blanc, 1895–96
Oil on canvas: 15 3/8 × 19 ¼ in / 39 × 49 cm
The Robert Bachmann Collection, Lisbon
 Nicole Tamburini, op.cit., no.66, p.94: ‘Dans ce qui est sans doute la plus japonisante de ses natures mortes, l’artiste associe au graphisme délicat de la branche la division de la couleur réduite à l’essentiel.
La composition définit une ligne en zigzag ; l’horizontale indiquée par la fleur posée sur la table se poursuit par l’oblique de la branche dans le vase et se termine par la signature rouge, à laquelle répond le coeur jaune de la marguerite en bas à gauche.
La finesse des coloris : harmonie blanche et rose-orangé associée aux tons bleu-gris, la simplicité de la mise en page, le fond vide, où le plateau de la table est à peine suggéré ; tout évoque l’art des maîtres de l'estampe.’
 Ibid., p.86: ‘Les natures mortes de Laugé – surtout celles peintes autour de 1893-1895 – témoignent d’une influence japonisante. Il a certainment vu l’Exposition rétrospective de l’art japonais à la galerie Georges Petit quand il était à Paris en 1883 ou le Salon annuel des peintres japonais organisé par l’Union centrale des Arts décoratifs au Palais de l’Industrie en 1883 et 1884. La publication créée en 1888 par S. Bing, Le Japon artistique, circulait beaucoup chez les peintres de l’avant-garde…Il possédait d’ailleurs dans sa bibliothéque plusieurs albums japonais illustrés de fleurs et d’animaux, ainsi que des recueils d’estampes.’
 See Nicole Tamburini, op. cit., pp.114-5, no.79-82, illus. in colour.