Originally from Bordeaux, Pourtau came to Paris aged 15 as an apprentice typesetter. Once in Paris, he worked in a small restaurant, ‘Orchestre Lamoureux’, situated on the Rue Lafayette, where musicians gathered. From the contacts he made here, he became a concert clarinettist in a typical Belle Époque Café-Chantant, whilst also studying at the Conservatoire de Paris.
Working alongside Seurat, Pourtau was introduced to Pointillism. Seurat developed his Neo-Impressionist style not only based on the colour theories of Michel Eugéne Chevreul, but he was also influenced by David Sutter’s 1880 work Phenomena of Vision, which made reference to the harmony of art being not dissimilar to that of music. In this luminous canvas, Pourtau’s shared interest with Seurat in intensifying the effect of colour and light is apparent. However, as Pourtau developed his practice, he applied his Pointillist dots less methodically than Seurat, using looser Divisionist brushwork as we see here.
Unlike Seurat, Pourtau also used these techniques primarily to depict the landscape, like Pissarro and Cross. Aged just twenty-two, Pourtau became professor at the Conservatoire de Lyon, meaning that many of his paintings depict the beautiful countryside surrounding the city. Painted during 1894, 'Paysage' is one of the artist’s final works featuring the landscape around Lyon before he left for America in the September of that year.
Unfortunately, Pourtau’s promising career was cut short. Having decided to take part in a concert tour to Philadelphia, which would earn him enough money to focus on his painting career, on his return to Le Havre he died when the SS La Bourgogne sunk in the Atlantic Ocean. This tragedy meant that Pourtau never received the exposure he deserved in France. Today his works can be found in the collections of numerous museums, including the Museo Soumaya, Mexico City and the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona.
Connaught Brown, London
Private Collection, UK
London, Connaught Brown, 'Summer Exhibition', 1 July - 9 July, 1988, no. 30
This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity signed by Monsieur Gilles Caillaud and dated 16 May, 2015
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné currently being prepared by Monsieur Gilles Caillaud