Ottin, Léon-Auguste



Impressionism, the partakers of the expositions:

Léon-Auguste Ottin


a painter of stained glass, city views and more

at the edge of Impressionism


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’ expositions in 1874 + 1876. Though his father Auguste had an active role in the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc, Léon doesn’t seem 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. His colours are rather bright, but he doesn’t use juxta-posed brushstrokes and his shades are quite greyish. 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;R3). He also showed 1 litho and 1 curtain. 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;R22). He probably showed 12 oil paintings and 10 aquarelles. He was called ‘Ottin fils’ (the son of Ottin). Just one review referred to his exhibited works, mainly summing some titles (R90I,p53). 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). Some suggest that the last 10 works (catalogue numbers 195 + 196) contained watercolours (R88I,p637).
Léon Ottin showed a total of 29 art-works, including 17 oil paintings, 10 aquarelles, 1 litho and 1 curtain, see other techniques.
See link for an account. See link for a thematical overview of his pictures.
Note*: So he didn’t show 10 works as some sources mention (iR4).
Note**: Spies wrongly mentions Ottin only exhibited at the 2nd exposition (R16).

Léon-Auguste Ottin at the Salon and other exhibitions:
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 Refusés with 4 works (iR1;R9;R3). In 1864 also one work was rejected and exhibited at the Salon des Refusés (iR1;R287,p416+). After that he very regularly exhibited at the Salon and it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français, until 1904. (Several sources mention that Léon Auguste exhibited until 1882 at the Salon, what is wrong (R3;R16;iR4;iR69;R87;R88;aR18). 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 Refusés of 1873 (iR1; Walther (wrongly) 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 Léon Ottin.
Still, in 1871 Léon Ottin was active in the ‘Fédération des artistes’ in the Paris Commune, together with his father (iR4;aR12;aR13;R88;aR18). And in 1873 (or: 1872?) he signed a petition that artists could appoint their own Jury for the Salon from all the artists that participated the year before (R88;R3,p636;iR4). 1874/12/17 Léon Ottin and his father Auguste were present at the liquidation of the Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc (R1,p336). So here is a tendency to independency. Unsure stays the reason why he participated in the ‘impressionist’ expositions of 1874 and 1876.
Some sources mention that Léon Ottin exhibited (two) stained glasses at the Exposition Universelle of 1878 (aR19;aR18;iR4), but this is not affirmed by the version of the catalogue that I have (R231).
Léon Ottin also exhibited at some regional exhibitions, namely in Blois (1858), Besançon (1870) and Toulouse (1886? + 1887).
1891/12/16 there was an auction in Paris at Hôtel Drouot with works from the studio of ‘L. Ottin’ (aR15=iR40).
See link for an account. See link for a thematical overview of his pictures. See link for his stained glass windows.

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 rendered many reproductions of stained glass windows, signing with ‘L. Ottin’, like in his other works. He also exhibited several (drawings of) stained glass windows at the Salon (=S) and it’s successor the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français (=SdAF), but never did so at the ‘impressionist’ expositions in 1874 + 1876 (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. 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;aR18). The Salon database also mentions that his father Auguste also was his teacher (iR1;R259). Léon Ottin is connected with Fantin-Latour, Legros and Félix Régamey (iR4;aR18). Some call his landscapes luminous and truthful (R9). He painted from a direct observation of nature, but he lacks originality (R9).
Léon Auguste Ottin is most famous for his stained glass works, see above. He is also known for his watercolours. Some are made on carton (A1891-no.62-114), others are rendered under glass (A1891,no.42-61; and some paintings on glass, see SdAF-1882). Already around 1854 Léon Ottin made watercolours for a book illustration (iR23). Looking at the Salon database (iR1) we see that Léon Ottin exhibited in 1881 seven 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 and the thematical overview of his paintings).

Oil paintings of Léon Ottin are hard to be found. Still, at the ‘impressionist’ expositions of 1874 + 1876 and at the Salon he exhibited many oil paintings. At the auction of 1891 there were 41 paintings listed in the catalogue (aR15).
Léon Ottin exhibited several portraits  (most at the Salon before 1870; mostly oil paintings). He also made some interiors, especially watercolours under glass of theatres (A1891-48 and others). But most of all Léon Ottin made landscapes and city views. He made many seaviews of watercolour (during his holidays at the coast of the Canal) (see SdAF-1881 + 1904; A1891,no.115-129). But most of all Léon Ottin depicted Paris and Montmartre, both in oil paintings and in watercolours (also under glass and on carton). More specific he depicted many roads and bridges. At the 2nd ‘impresssionist’ exposition of 1876 all 22 works were landscapes, twelve of them depicted Montmartre.


Watercolours made by L. Ottin:
There are several drawings / watercolours signed by L. Ottin (aR8+aR21). The most logical to think is that they were made by Léon-Auguste Ottin (1836-1918). The signature also compares the signature he used 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 (=BNF; iR26;iR40) render many of these watercolours made by L. Ottin. In 2019 the BNF attributed these works 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 Auguste and all the others by his son Léon Ottin. I shared my opinion with the BNF and in 2022 they attribute the later watercolours to Léon Ottin, except a watercolour made in 1856.
See link for a thematical overview of his pictures.



Short biography on Léon-Auguste Ottin:

  • 1836/10/30: Léon Auguste Ottin was 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;R88)
    Some sources mention wrongly 1839 as year of birth (iR60;iR69;aR20).
  • 1854/05/14: publication date of a booklet with songs called ‘Album Charles Cuisin’, including 55 sheets, 21x28cm, with contributions attributed to Léon Ottin:
    Letter of Charles Cuisin (dated 1854/05/15) to his friends Henri Fantin-Latour, Léon Ottin, Louis-Marc Solon, Alphonse Legros, Félix Regamey et Charles Verlet asking for a contribution ’to pour out your souls’ and to ‘write to sing’ (folio 1: iR23)
    ‘Chanson Gothique’ written by Gérard de Nerval (folio 25: M5a; iR23)
    idem; signed ‘L. Ottin janvier 56’ (folio 26: M5a; iR23)
    ‘La Brise’ (folio 45: M5; iR23)
    ‘La Brise’ (folio 46; M5; iR23)
    ‘La Brise’; signed with ‘L. Ottin Juin 57’ (folio 47: M5; iR23)
    Poem signed ‘L. Ottin 18 obre 60’ (folio 48: iR23)
    ‘Chant des Lavandières’; top right ‘Victor Hugo’ (folio 50: M5; iR23)
    ‘Chant des Lavandières; signed with ‘L. Ottin 1860’ (folio 51; M5; iR23)
  • 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: Léon Ottin married with Catherine Ernst (1843-?) (aR3;iR4)
  • 1870: his son Henri-Léon was born; he also became a painter; he died in 1960 (aR3;iR4)
    Léon Ottin lived at 50, Rue Condorcet, Paris (aR3), in the 9th arrondissement, just south of Montmartre (iR9)
  • 1873: a child died in the same year that it was born (aR3)
    Léon Ottin lived at 2, Rue Bervic, Paris (aR3), in the south part of the 18th arrondissement
  • 1877: his daughter Juliette Andrée was born; she also became a painter; she died in 1944 (aR3;iR4)
  • 1877-84: lived 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); this is not affirmed by a catalogue (R231)
  • 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;R88;aR1;aR18). Other sources mention 1882 (iR60) or after 1892 (aR3).


The most sources on Impression doesn’t mention Léon-Auguste Ottin at all, not even Adler (=R89). 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,p685), Schurr & Cabane (2008=R9,p567), Spiess (R16,p252), Dayez / Adhémar (1974=R87,p248), Monneret (1978-81=R88I,p636/7), 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), mutualart (iR11), invaluable (iR17), 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;aR18)

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) = aR16
  4. (2019, auctionhouse with a work of LA Ottin; note 2022: the link doesn’t work anymore)
  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 Auguste-Louis-Marie Ottin, the father of Léon; in 2019 they attributed 18 drawings / watercolours signed with L. Ottin to Auguste Ottin; in 2022 they do so with 4; =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 in 1884)
  12. (article by Laurent Bourcier on Eugène Poittier (1816-87), who wrote a poem for Léon Ottin in 1867 titled ‘ce que dit le pain’, which seem to have socialist tendencies, but doesn’t give any information 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 Hôtel Drouot; = iR40)
  16. (family tree of ALM Ottin; =iR79) =aR3
  17. (works of Ottin in the Musée Carnavalet; M8;iR195)
  18. (extracts from Vassor, Bernard: Un peintre verrier montmartrois, impressionniste de la première heure: Léon-Auguste Ottin)
  19. (PDF of Theses by Alba Fabiola Lozano Cajamarca on ‘Innovations des techniques verrières au XIXe siècle et leurs applications dans la réalisation de vitraux’ In Vol. 2. Annexes, p236 she mentions that Léon Ottin exhibited ‘L’Histoire de l’ameublement fenêtre du Palais du Trocadéro’ at the Expoisition Universelle of 1878. Some sources also refer to this these mention that he exhibited 2 stained glasses (iR4;aR18).
  20. (depicting two auctioned watercolours of Léon Ottin)
  21.éon_Ottin (data and pictures of Léon-Auguste Ottin, including watercolours that were attributed in 2019 to his father Auguste)



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