Ludovic Piette (1826-78)
more than a close friend of Pissarro
Was Ludovic Piette an Impressionist?
If Piette is mentioned at all in books on Impressionism, he mostly is just mentioned as a friend of Pissarro. On the internet there also is not much information on him. The English Wikipedia site is very brief. The number of pictures are limited. Often his year of death is (wrongly) rendered as 1877.
Ludovic Piette was a close friend of Camille Pissarro and often painted in the surroundings of Pontoise. It is unknown if Piette was acquainted with other members of the school of Pontoise like Béliard, Cézanne, Gauguin, Guillaumin and Vignon? Piette had contacts with related painters like Manet and Chintreuil. Did Piette also take part at the meetings in Café Guerbois? Were there other painters that stayed at his residence in Montfoucault except Pissarro and Manet? In this sense it is unknown if Piette was a side-figure or an active member of the circles of friends that were part of the ‘impressionist’ art-movement.
Sure is that Piette didn’t join the ‘Société Anonyme…’, nor the first two ‘impressionist’ expositions. At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877 Piette was a sort of guest of honour, exhibiting 31 works. After his death in 1878, Pissarro (and others) honoured him by exhibiting posthumous at least 12 works of Piette at the 4th ‘impressionist’ exhibition in 1879. In this sense Piette was more a side-figure, but a well respected one, at least by Pissarro.
In his titles Piette mostly renders a (specific) indication of place. Regularly he also gives an indication of season, weather conditions and time of day. In his earlier works Piette uses many greys and browns. Later on, stimulated by Pissarro, he leaves out black. In his later works Piette uses very bright colours. In some of his later works he uses colourful shades, but mostly they are quite grey. He renders the influence of sunlight on the colours. Though his brushstroke is quite visibel, Piette doesn’t use juxtaposed brushstrokes and he renders many details. So you can say that his painting style developed from a more realist style to a mainly ‘impressionist’ style. Piette died in 1878, a year when the most famous Impressionists were still developing their style to a full impressionist one. So maybe when he lived longer his works would have been equally admired like those of Monet, Pissarro and Sisley.
Ludovic Piette(-Montfoucault) at the Salon:
Piette made his debut at the Salon in 1857 (aR2;iR3;R9). After that Piette almost yearly exhibited at the Salon: 1859 /61 /64/ 65/ 66/ 67/ 68/ 69/ 70/72 and 76. (iR1;R9) He only didn’t exhibit in 1863 /73 / 74 / 75.
Ludovic Piette only joined the 3rd and 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition:
At the 3rd ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1877 Ludovic Piette showed as a sort of guest of honour 31 works (catalogue numbers xx) (R2,pxx). Piette was invited by Pissarro (R1,p391;aR2;R116;iR3;aR4). Paul Sébillot (1877/04/07) reviews ‘There is a great deal of light in the painting by Piette, even … rather dazzling. (…) Piette … would do well not to exaggerate his Impressionism.’ Roger Ballu (1877/04/14) reviews ‘There are, however, many weaknesses and mistakes among the numerous works he is showing.’ Louis de Fourcaud (alias Léon de Lora; 1877/04/10) reviews: ‘Ludovic Piette is an artist who has captured the feeling of the swarming movement of a crowd. (…) Perhaps one should object to their gaudy excess of colours.’ Jacques (1877/04/11) remarks ‘the unusual accuracy of the sites. ‘ (R2,p230)
At the 4th ‘impressionist’ exposition in 1879 there was a memorial show of Piette’s watercolours (R2,p260). His name ‘Feu Piette’ was on the title page of the catalogue. (R2,p263), but the works were not mentioned in the catalogue. Probably they were all watercolours (R2,p252+271) and more than 3 (mentioned in L’Artiste) (R2,p263) and perhaps a dozen or so (R2,p260), at least several (R116). Pissarro took initiative for the exhibition of his works (R116;R9) and maybe also Duranty (R2,p263).
Piette stood reserved to an association of painters, being afraid that narrow-minded, incompetent artists without moral and political convictions. He expressed so in a letter to Pissarro summer 1873 (R8,p206). He didn’t join the ‘Société Anonyme…’, nor the first two ‘impressionist’ exhibitions (R2).
See link for his -/-art-works. See link for an -/-account.
Piette as an artist:
Piette was a pupil of Faustin Besson (iR1). Piette was (from 1850-56) a pupil of Thomas Couture; here he met Manet (iR23;aR2;iR3;R3), who attended this atelier from 1850-56 (R71,p12). Piette (later on) also was a pupil of Isidore Pils (iR23;aR2;iR3). Piette also attended atelier Suisse (aR2;iR3;R5,p19). Some sources mention that it was there that Piette met Manet (and Chintreuil) (iR69;iR4;R16); but Manet never attended atelier Suisse (R71,p12).
Piette was a close friend of Pissarro (iR23;aR2;iR4;R1,p50). They met around 1860; probably at atelier Suisse (R116;iR3;aR2;R3;aR4) or maybe through Antoine Chintreuil (R116;aR2), with whom he often met (iR4). Pissarro stayed 6x at his residence in Montfoucault from 1864-1876 (R116,Vol.2,p89;aR4;iR23;aR2), which was a farm (R17,p243;R8,p172;R1,p109). Pissarro stayed there 1864/10-11 (R116), Rewald claims this was in the summer (R1,109); 1870/09-12: during this stay a daughter of Pissarro was born and died (R116;aR2;R5,p64;R1,p251); 1874/10-75/02 (R116;R5,p85;R1,p336); 1875/Autumn (R116;R1,p363); 1875/Winter (R116); 1876/Autumn (R116;R5,p95). It is only 1874 onwards that Piette also payed visits at Pissarro’s home in Pontoise (iR23;aR2). Piette also supported Pissarro financially (iR23). They also corresponded from 1863-77; there are 48 letters known (iR4;aR3;iR3;aR2). Manet would also stay and paint at Piette his residence in Montfoucault (R9). The relationship with Monet and Renoir was reserved (iR4).
His pictures are very lively and colourful (iR23). Piette is especially appreciated for his gouaches (iR23;R9;iR4). Piette painted landscapes, market places, flower pieces and scenes from literature (aR2).
His paintings are hardly to be distinguished from those of Pissarro (R9,p172). Piette (stimulated by Pissarro) painted en-plein-air (iR69;aR2;iR4). He used fresh colours (iR4). Stimulated by Pissarro Piette abandoned black (iR69;iR4). But his painting was more precise and he often didn’t use loose touches (aR2). He lacked the talent, creativity and daring of his friend Pissarro, which Piette himself acknowledged: ‘you will go much further than me, for I will remain a watercolourist (R116). His style was more realistic (Diego Martelli) (R9).
Piette yearly sold his work (gouaches) at Hôtel Drouot from 1872-77 (aR2;iR23). Père Martin was his dealer (aR2). He probably didn’t sell many works (aR2). Financially he didn’t need to (R9;R116).
Piette was the teacher of Louise Darru (iR24).
Piette, a short biography:
- 1826/05/11: Ludovic Piette was born in Niort-la-Fontaine (Deux-Sèvres) (iR4;aR2;iR3;R3;iR1;iR23;iR24). Schurr mentions Piette was born in 1825 (R9).
- His parents were rather rich (R9).
- 1854: After the death of his parents Piette inherited the family estate of Montfoucault at Melleray-la-Vallée (R116); others sources mention this was in 1862 (aR2;iR4) or in 1864 (iR3).
- 1857-59: Piette dwelled at 96, Rue Blanche, Paris (iR1)
- 1859: Piette bought a house at 31, Rue Véron, 18e arrondissement, Paris (aR2;R116). It is confirmed he still lived there in 1861 (iR1) and also from 1870-77 (iR1;R2,p205). In 1910 his wife would die there (aR2).
- 1862/03/31 (or: 04/17): marries Adèle Lévy (aR2;R116).
- 1862: Piette settled permanently at the family estate of Montfoucault at Melleray-la-Vallée (R116;aR2;iR4;iR3).
- 1864-69: Piette rendered for the Salon an address at M. Drouelle, 44, Rue de Constantine, Paris (iR1)
- 1870/08/06: Piette was appointed as city councillor of Melleray; he would withdraw 1874/05/03, but was elected again in 1876/09/17 and 1878/01/06 (aR2;R116).
- 1872/03/11: sale at Hôtel Drouot of 80 watercolours and gouaches (aR4;R116).
- 1873/04/05: sale at Hôtel Drouot of 77 watercolours (aR4;R116)
- 1874/02/21: sale at Hôtel Drouot of 85 watercolours (aR4;R116)
- 1875/03/75: sale at Hôtel Drouot of 78 works (aR4;R116)
- 1877/03/24: sale at Hôtel Drouot of 56 works (aR4;R116)
- 1878/04/14: Piette died in Montfoucault (aR2;iR3;iR24;R116;R9) or in Paris (iR3;iR24); he died of cancer of which he suffered for years (R116,vol2,p89;aR4).
Several sources (also) mention that Piette died in 1877 (iR23;iR11;iR69;R3;R8,p172;R16)
- 1879/02/20: a posthumous sale in Hôtel Drouot, with a preface by Duranty (iR70;aR2)
- 1882/02+04: posthumous sales (aR2)
- 1910: his wife Adèle Lévy died at 35 (former 31), Rue Véron, Paris (aR2).
- 1929: solo exhibition in Paris; introduction to the catalogue by A. Tabarant (iR70;R116).
- 1979: the Musée Pissarro (or: Tavet-Delacour) in Pontoise showed an exhibition with works of Piette (and Pissarro and Daubigny) (iR70;iR23).
- a street in Pontoise is named after Piette (iR3)
My main sources are Moffett (1986, R2), Walther (2013, R3,p687), Denvir (1993, R5;1992,R8), Schurr&Cabanne (2008,p590/1), Spiess (1996,R16,p256), Pissarro&Durand-Ruel (2005,vol.2,p68=R116), the Salon database (iR1), Wikipedia (iR3;iR4), Joconde (iR23), RKD (iR24), Bénézit (iR69), Grove (iR70) and the additional sources (aR). For other general references (=R) see. My main sources (for the pictures) from the internet are the-athenaeum (iR2,7x), Wikimedia (iR6,9x), Mutualart (iR11), Artnet (iR13), Joconde, (iR23,12x,with additional info) and the additional references (aRx). For other references to internet sites (=iR) see. For other additional references (=aR) see below. See links for practical hints and abbreviations and for the subscription of the paintings.
For further reading:
Bénézit (1976,vol.8,p328=R75), Bénézit (1999,vol.10,p919=R76), Busse (1977,p977=R77), Witt(1978,p245=R78), Thieme/Becker (1907-50,vol.27,p30=R79), Allgemeines Künstlerlexicon (1999-2000,vol.7,p776=R81) (iR24).
Maillet, Edda, Catherine Lobstein & André Watteau: Camille Pissarro, Charles-François Daubigny, Ludovic Piette, exhibition catalogue. Musée Tavet-Delacour, Pontoise, 1978 (iR69;R116). Including 83 works of Piette (aR4).
Bailly-Herzberg, Janine (ed.): Mon cher Pissarro – Lettres de Ludovic Piette à Camille Pissarro. Valhermeil, Paris, 1985. (In French, 143p.) (iR24;iR70;iR3;aR3;iR23;R3)
xx: Ludovic Piette 1826-1878. Exhibition catalogue in French; 32p. Musée Tavet-Delacour, Pontoise, 1997. (iR24;R116)
- Musée Tavet-Delacour, Pontoise (the museum owns at least 10 works of Piette, they are on display in the dependance Musée Camille Pissarro; iR23)
- www.van-gogh.fr (info on Piette; not secured=iR77)
- www.inlibroveritas.net (extracts of the correspondance between Piette and Pissarro).
- www.ludovic-piette.com (info + beautiful pictures on Piette; secured, some advertisements)
- www.ville-pontoise.fr (short biography on Piette with self-portrait)
- www.ville-pontoise.fr (a school named after Ludovic Piette)
- www.YouTube.com (short video on Piette)