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Édouard Vallet

Les Coquelicots, 1926
oil on canvas
50.0 x 65.0 cm
A newly blooming landscape evokes the recent arrival of summer with all the mellowness of that colourful season. The freshness of the hues and the subject contrasts with the monumental character of the mountains, a frequent subject of Édouard Vallet’s brush. Les Coquelicots (Poppies), with its great carpet of wild grass and scattered petals, comes as a breath of colour in Vallet’s artistic output.

Speaking about a painting that depicts a garden in the month of May, Charles Ferdinand Ramuz wrote in 1906: “[It] has nevertheless such a charm of achieving the right impression, such a brightness and verve of painting, something so prettily unexpected in the layout and colour that it well deserves to be in a class by itself. This spontaneity, dangerous in the work of others, is a guarantee of success in his. It’s that the spontaneity exists side by side with a very sure hand and a perfect knowledge of the limits of his resources.”

Vallet manages to paint a fitting recreation of a meadow brushed by a breeze, whose swaying grass forms waves in the landscape. In the distance, several dark shrubs strengthen the composition and make the transition to the ice-bedecked summits possible. The bristles of his brush play with the different colours, now impastoed in the areas of dense grass, now lightly charged with paint for the touches of red. The artist’s gesture fully recreates the messy mischievous atmosphere of summer.

Vallet reworks the thicknesses of his paint and acts by rubbing the surface as soon as the pigments are applied. He thus attains effects of blurring and blending that heighten the colour density, as in the foreground with the pale green clearing that stretches out in the meadow, forming a scrubby passage shaped by the wind. The poppy-dotted field inevitably calls to mind Claude Monet’s famous canvas by the same name (1873, Musée d’Orsay), done some fifty years earlier. The undulating setting of Argenteuil gives way here to the mountains that are sketched out on the horizon by a blue outline, although the range of tones is similar to those selected by Monet. In this view, Édouard Vallet expresses once again his love of outdoor painting.
Edouard Vallet, Les Coquelicots, 1926