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Fauvist Vanitas "Still Life with Flowers and Skull" 
Louis Mathieu Verdilhan (Provence, France, 1875-1928)
Circa 1910
Oil on canvas on wood panel
28 1/4 x 20 1/2 (36 x 28 frame) inches


From the Fauvist explosion, he intercepted the fragments of molten matter that he worked with care, integrating certain innovations sparingly into his work, adapting the solutions provided by Fauvism to his own questioning. He thus learned to transpose colors frankly and to stretch them into flat areas and began to envisage a layering of planes that created a singular perspective. 
Louis Mathieu Verdilhan was part of the tradition of the Provençal landscape painters of the second half of the 19th century, a fraternity whom he deeply admired. Strongly attached to the contributions of his predecessors, he was not, however, insensitive to the pictorial upheavals that occurred at the dawn of the 20th century. It was not until 1909 that Verdilhan's works began to pay tribute to Fauvism. He explored certain facets of the movement in a very personal way, allowing him to advance in his own investigations, both chromatic and formal. Fauvism would have acted on Verdilhan as a sort of revelation, bringing a collective answer to artistic problems that had been gnawing at the painter for some time.
Despite losing his left eye in 1902 due to an accident, he continued to paint so much that he first exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Indépendants in 1910.
In 1909, he exhibited at Bernheim's in Paris, alongside Edmond Cross, Félix Vallotton, Paul Signac, Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard. That year, at the request of the poet and art critic Joachim Gasquet, he painted a series of canvases about the park of Versailles. The following year, his work was presented at the Druet Gallery, around the works of Henri Manguin, Albert Marquet and Henri Matisse.
Between 1910 and 1914, Verdilhan divided his time between Paris and Marseille. He participated in the "Provençal Renaissance" which aimed to make the city a more dynamic artistic center. An exhibition dedicated to the artist was being prepared in Leipzig, but the war prevented its realization. 
Since around 1911 Verdilhan's preoccupations brought him very close to the work of the German expressionists, and in particular to the group of early Expressionist artists known as the Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), which had just been created around Kandinsky, Franz Marc and August Macke. Pierre Girieud made the link between these foreign avant-garde movements and his Marseilles companions, particularly through his relationship with Adolf Erbslöh, co-founder of the New Munich Artists' Association (NKV).
Verdilhan explores sinuous and angular lines, sharp cuts, triangular flat areas. His palette takes on sharper tones in compositions giving expression to the artist's inner emotions. 
From 1914, Verdilhan's work took a different direction, finding in the 1920s a synthetic form of expression of modernity. With his growing fame, the artist exhibited in 1923 with the New York gallery Kraushaar in New York and in 1925 collaborated on the decor of the Provence pavilion at the International Decorative Arts Exhibition. 
Louis-Mathieu Verdilhan remains, alongside René Seyssaud and Auguste Chabaud as one of the principal progenitors of modernity in Provence. If each of the artists followed a very personal artistic path, their names were nevertheless regularly joined together to underline a form of innovative expression likely to inspire the younger generation in the region.
He was of a generous temperament and the colored passion and vigor of Fauvism enabled Verdilhan to express his own feelings whilst depicting the same stunning landscapes that Cézanne had painted. He distilled the subject, or its nature, into a few essential lines. He retained Cézanne’s classical organization of the composition in a way also used by Emile Othon-Friesz, Albert Marquet and Maurice de Vlaminck. Indeed, Marquet’s influence gave him a strong preference for using pale outlines surrounding blocks of color. 
Verdilhan died prematurely at the age of 53 from cancer. His works are now kept in many museums in France and abroad. Retrospectives of his work were held at the Musée d’Art in Toulon in 1950 and 1967.


Fauvist Vanitas "Still Life with Flowers and Skull" Louis Mathieu Verdilhan

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