France, Private Collection.
The Opera, Grand Boulevards, French Cancan, funfairs: Louis Abel-Truchet (Versailles 1856 – Auxerre 1918) was an illustrator of modern life which he interpreted through powerful light contrasts illuminating figures taken up in the excitement of industrial progress. Nonetheless, far from the city and its deafening machines, Truchet was also able to capture the calm and peaceful life of the countryside, in a few works of which ours is an excellent example. Comfortably seated in an armchair in a garden in the shade of trees, a young woman reads peacefully. Elegantly dressed in the latest fashions, she may well be Julia Abel-Truchet (1862-1935), the artist’s wife, herself a painter who took over the studio after her husband’s death.
With a lighter more colourful palette than that used in most of his works, Truchet evokes the gentle silent calm impression of an afternoon bathed in the warm light of summer. Like every good Impressionist, he is fascinated by the effects produced by light on colors. His work comes out of attentive observation of variations in time expressed through numerous sketches, by means of which the final work closely illustrates the painter’s own vision as it was at the moment he did the picture. Here, Truchet works the different shades of white, green, and yellow produced by rays of sunlight piercing through the foliage.
The composition of our picture recalls the Woman in a Garden (oil on panel, signed lower left, 32 x 41 cm. / 12 5⁄8 x 16 1⁄8 in. private collection) whose darker palette and more restrained format could have been a first attempt for our picture. In depicting women seated in their garden, Truchet follows the tradition of great Impressionist artists such as Claude Monet or Camille Pissarro who had previously presented their familiars in similar settings.
Through a few of these images of peaceful happiness in which time seems suspended, Louis Abel-Truchet also reflects France’s economic prosperity during the Belle Epoque, that is, from the Gay 90s up through the First World War.
Abel Truchet, exhibition, Barbazanges Gallery, Paris, December 1st – 15th, 1925.