Ottin, Léon-Auguste

almost finished

Léon-Auguste Ottin (1836-1918)

painter of Montmartre



Was Léon-Auguste Ottin an Impressionist?
There is not much known about Léon-Auguste Ottin. Sure is that he only exhibited at the first two ‘impressionist’ exhibitions of 1874 + 1876. Though his father Auguste had an active role in the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…‘, Léon doesn’t seam to have been a founding member. Yet he was present at the liquidation meeting. Earlier on he showed some tendencies to independency of the Salon. So you can say Léon-Auguste Ottin had been active at the side lines of the ‘impressionist’ art-movement. There is (almost) nothing known about his contacts with other impressionists.
In many of his paintings and watercolours there is an indication of place, sometimes quite specific. Just in some of his works there is an indication of time of day / season / weather conditions.  Persons mostly are rendered in a casual way, but his brushstroke is more smooth. Many of his works are quite greyish. He renders the shadows with greys and not with violets and blues. In that sense Léon-Auguste Ottin can be seen as a landscapist, but only slightly painting in an impressionist style


Léon-Auguste Ottin only joined the 1st  and 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition:
At the 1st ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1874 Léon-Auguste Ottin showed 7 works (catalogue numbers 129-135) (R2,p122). (So he didn’t show 10 works as some sources mention; iR4). There were just a few short reviews (R90I).
At the 2nd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1876 Léon-Auguste Ottin showed 22 works, mentioned in 14 catalogue numbers (183-196) (R2,p163/4). He was called ‘Ottin fils’ (the son of Ottin). Just one review referred to his exhibited works, mainly summing some titles (R90I,p53). Spies wrongly mentions Ottin only exhibited at the 2nd exposition (R16). At this exhibition he showed many city views depicting Paris and especially Montmartre. Probably his works were added at a later moment, because the works of Renoir were exhibited with a 14 lower number than in the catalogue (R90II,p44).
See link for an account. See link for his watercolours.


Léon-Auguste Ottin at the Salon:
Léon-Auguste Ottin made his debut at the Salon in 1861 (iR1;R9;R87). He was rejected in 1863 and participated in the Salon des Refuses with 4 works (iR1;R9;R3). After that he very regularly exhibited at the Salon until 1904. Several sources mention that Léon Auguste exhibited until 1882 at the Salon, what is wrong (R3;R16;iR4;iR69;R87). Maybe this corresponds 1882 as the wrong year of death mentioned by some sources (iR60).
In 1873 he didn’t exhibit at the Salon, but the Salon database doesn’t mention him in the catalogue of the Salon des Refuses of 1873 (iR1). Walther writes he did participated there (R3). He also didn’t join the Salon in 1874, 1877 and 1878, but it is not clear if he was rejected or didn’t submit. Sure is that he was accepted in 1872, 1875, 1876 and again in 1879. Sure is also that Léon Ottin didn’t participate in the ‘impressionist’ expositions after 1876. So it doesn’t seem that the ‘impressionist’ expositions was a necessary alternative of the Salon for Ottin.
Still in 1871 Ottin was active in the ‘Fédération des artistes’ in the Paris Commune, together with his father (iR4;aR12;aR13). And in 1872 (or: 73?) Léon Ottin signed a petition that artists could appoint their own Jury for the Salon (R3;R88,p636;iR4; see). 1874/12/17 Léon Ottin and his father August were present at the liquidation of the ‘Société Anonyme d’Artistes…‘ (R1,p336). So here is a tendency to independency. Unsure stays the reason why he participated in the ‘impressionist’ expositions of 1874 and 1876.
See link for an account. See link for his watercolours. See link for his stained glass windows.



Léon-Auguste Ottin as an artist:
Léon Ottin was a pupil of Paul Delaroche and Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (R9;iR4;aR1;R3;iR69;R87;R259). The Salon database also mentions that his father also was his teacher (iR1;R259). Léon Ottin is connected with Fatin-Latour, Legros and Félix Régamey (iR4). His landscapes are luminous and truthful (R9). He paints from a direct observation of nature, but he lacks originality (R9).
Léon Auguste Ottin is most famous for his stained glass works, see below. His is also known for his watercolours, though most watercolours signed with ‘L. Ottin’ are attributed to his father Auguste (see below). But at the ‘impressionist’ expositions of 1874 + 1876 and at the Salon he exhibited several oil paintings. He also exhibited several portraits (most before 1870). At the auction of 1891 there were 41 paintings listed in the catalogue and 88 watercolours. Mostly city-views and landscapes, but no portraits. (aR15)
Still works of Léon Auguste Ottin are very rare. On auction websites you can only find 3 works (see above). As far as I know there is no work of him to be find in a museum.


Watercolours made by L. Ottin:
There are several drawings / watercolours signed by L. Ottin. The most logical to think is that they were made by Léon-Auguste Ottin (1836-1918). The signature also compares the signature he uses in his book about stained glass windows (see). Many of these watercolours depict city-views of Paris and especially Montmartre. Léon Ottin exhibited several watercolours at the Salon and exhibited several works at the ‘impressionist’ expositions of 1874 and 1876 that depict city-views of Montmartre (see account). Some of the drawings / watercolours now known were made in 1831 and 1839. So they can’t be made by Léon Ottin who was born in 1836.
The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (iR26;iR40) renders many of these watercolours made by L. Ottin and attributes them to Auguste Louis Marie Ottin, the father of Léon. So do some other sources (aR1). In the Salon database he is mostly called Auguste-Louis-Marie / Auguste / A. Ottin (iR1). So you expect the signature ‘A. Ottin’. But a watercolour made in 1836 is signed Louis Marie Ottin. And in the Salon of 1853 he is called Louis Marie Auguste Ottin. So this would explain the signature ‘L. Ottin’. But still Auguste Ottin never exhibited watercolours nor works depicting Paris and Montmartre (see account). So I assume that only the early watercolours were made by August and all the others by his son Léon Ottin.
Looking at the Salon database (iR1) we see that Léon Ottin exhibited in 1881 7 watercolours of a holiday in Normandie, possibly made the summer of 1880. In 1888 he showed 1 watercolour made in the neighbourhood of Yport, at the Normandie coast. In 1904 he showed 15 watercolours made around Portel, which lies south of Calais. At the 1891 auction there were 88 watercolours exhibited titled ‘bords de la mer’ depicting scenes from the Normandy coast (aR15).  Along the years he exhibited also 10 watercolours of Paris, 1 portrait and 4 other watercolours. (see account)

Stained glass windows made / restored by Léon Ottin:
Léon-Auguste Ottin also was a glass-maker (R87). He wrote a book about stained glass windows, called: ‘Vitrail, son histoires, ses manifestations diverses a travers les ages et les peuples’ (aR7). In this book he renders many reproductions of stained glass windows, signing with ‘L. Ottin’, like in his watercolours. He also exhibited several (drawings of) stained glass windows at the Salon, but never did so at the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1874 + 76 (iR1; see account). But it seems he mostly restored old windows, I’m not sure if he ever made new windows. In this sense Ottin is more a craftsman, than an artist. What is curious is that in all the information of the stained glass windows he worked on and that are now in several churches, there is no reference at all to Léon Auguste Ottin. With the about 23 (drawings of) stained glass windows he exhibited at the Salon throughout the years, it seems he was a very important glass-maker. 


Short biography on Léon-Auguste Ottin:

  • 1836/10/30: born in Paris
    His father was the artist/sculptor Auguste-Louis-Marie Ottin (1811-90)
    His mother Suzanne Élisabeth Arsandaux (1814-90) (aR3;iR4;R87)
    Some sources mention wrongly 1839 as year of birth (iR60;iR69).
  • 1861: Léon Auguste Ottin lived at 36, Rue de l’Ouest, Paris; the same address as his father August (iR1), in the 14th arrondissement on the left / south bank of the Seine (iR9)
  • 1864: Léon-Auguste Ottin lived at 289, Rue Saint-Jacques, Paris (iR1), in the 5th arrondissement, but close to his former home (iR9).
  • 1865-76: lived at 9, Rue Vincent-Compoint, Paris (Montmartre) (iR1;aR3;R259), in the 18th arrondissement where he would make many paintings and watercolours (iR9), which is the same address as his father Auguste Ottin. Note this is contradicted with the addresses where his children were born in 1870 + 1873 (aR3).
  • 1867: Eugène Pottier dedicated a poem to Léon Ottin (aR12)
  • 1869/12/16: married with Catherine Ernst (1843-?) (aR3;iR4)
  • 1870: his son Henri-Léon was born; he died in 1960 (aR3;iR4)
    lived at 50, Rue Condorcet, Paris (aR3), in the 9th arrondissement, just south of Montmartre (iR9)
  • 1873: a child died in the same year (aR3)
    lived at 2, Rue Bervic, Paris (aR3), in the south part of the 18th arrondissement
  • 1877: his daughter Juliette Andrée was born; she died in 1944 (aR3;iR4)
  • 1877-84: lives at 5, Rue Laffitte, Paris (aR3;iR1), in the south part of the 9th arrondissement (iR9)
  • 1878: stained glass of Léon Ottin is exhibited at the Exposition Universal (aR1;iR4)
  • 1884: Jean Léon Gérôme writes a letter to Léon Ottin the glass painter (aR11)
  • 1885-87: lives at 15, Boulevard Berthier, Paris (iR1), in the 17th arrondissement (iR9)
  • 1890-1904: lives at 29, Boulevard Pereire, Paris (iR1;aR3), in the famous Batignolles district part of the 17th arrondissement (iR9)
  • 1918/06/06: Léon-Auguste Ottin died in Neuilly-sur-Marne (93, Seine Saint-Denis) (aR16;iR4). Note: Neuilly-sur-Marne lies about 15km east-north of Paris and is part of the district Seine Saint-Denis.  Several sources mention the date of death is unknown (R2;R3;R9;aR1;). Other sources mention 1882 (iR60) or after 1892 (aR3).


The most sources on Impression doesn’t mention Léon-Auguste Ottin at all. The most sources that mention him are very limited in their information. My main sources are Rewald (1973, R1), Moffett (1986, R2), Walther (2013, R3), Schurr&Cabane (2008, R9,p567), Spiess (R16,p252), Dayez / Adhémar (1974=R87,p248), the Salon database (iR1), the French Wikipedia (iR4) and the additional references (=aRx; see below). The English Wikipedia lacks a site about Léon-Auguste Ottin, the RKD doesn’t mention him (iR24) and ULAN gives wrong information (iR60). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are Wikimedia (iR6), Joconde (iR23), (=iR40), the additional references (=aR; see below) and Google images (iR10). The-athenaeum (iR2) renders no picture at all. For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading see:
Bénézit (1976,=R75), Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon (R81) (iR60).
Vassor, Bernard: Un peintre verrier montmartrois, impressionniste de la première heure: Léon-Auguste Ottin. (aR12)

Additional references:

  1. Vanished French Impressionist 9 (article of the eclecticlight on LA Ottin and others;=iR35)
  2. (auctionhaus with a work of LA Ottin)
  3. (family tree of Léon Auguste Ottin; =iR79)
  4. (auctionhouse with a work of LA Ottin)
  5. (info on stained glass of LA Ottin)
  6. Joconde (images and music partitures by LA Ottin; =iR23)
  7. (online publication of L. Ottin’s book: ‘Le vitrail, son histoire, ses manifestations diverses a travers les ages et les peuples‘, Laurens, Paris, 1896)
  8. (data and pictures of ALM Ottin; note they render his name also as L. Ottin and they render 18 drawings / watercolours of which most are probably made by his son Léon-Auguste Ottin; =iR26)
  9. (pictures of stained glass windows in Cléry, see S1876)
  10. www.cathé (with picture of stained glass of Ottin, see S1903-3640)
  11. primo.getty-edu (notification of a letter from Gérôme to Ottin)
  12. (article with info on Léon Ottin)
  13. (e-book from Neil McWilliam: Dreams of Happiness: Social Art and the French left, 1830-1850; =iR131)
  14. (overview of documents where Léon Auguste Ottin is mentioned; = iR40)
  15. (auction catalogue of works of L. Ottin, 1891/12/16; = iR40)
  16. (family tree of ALM Ottin; =iR79)
  17. x



Citation: Please do not quote from this webpage, which is under construction. The information is incomplete and maybe partly incorrect.