François Gaillard

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Biography of François Gaillard ( 1861-1932 )

Acclaimed like a luminist-painter, renowned for his animated street scenes and colour management, François Gailliard, (also known as Franz Gailliard) was born in 1861 in Brussels, in the commune of Saint-Gilles. Particularly attracted by artistic practice, he attended the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels, a school founded in 1711, teaching plastic arts as well as architecture until 1980. He chose to join the studio of Jean-François Portaels, a painter, winner of the Grand Prix de Rome, well-known for his history painting, orientalist subjects, portraits and religious compositions. In this context, he follows the courses of Joseph Stellaert, a Belgian painter who won the first prize in the nature competition, as well as the composition prize at the Brussels School of Fine Arts, and the Grand Prix de Rome in 1848. He also studied with Jules Hoeterickx and François Bossuet, a painter of the Belgian school, renowned for his representations of cities, monuments and landscapes of Spain and Italy. The latter is the author of a treatise on perspective published in 1843. Paul Lauters, painter, watercolourist, lithographer and etching engraver, specialised in landscape painting and figuration of urban scenes will also be his teacher. Finally, he joined Jean-Léon Gérôme's Parisian studio.

As part of his artistic studies, François Gailliard frequented James Ensor, a Belgian painter, engraver and anarchist known to adhere to the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century, renowned for his expressionist work. The latter is the founder of the Brussels avant-garde group Les Vingt. He also works alongside Fernand Khnopff, a symbolist painter, draughtsman, photographer and engraver, influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite movement. He also became friends with James Abbott McNeill Whistler, an American painter and engraver, linked to the Symbolist and Impressionist movements, who came to explore the streets of Belgium at his side, whom he met in 1887 during his stays in Berlin and Paris. François Gailliard regularly frequented the artistic and intellectual circles of Belgium, and his close friends included artists such as Alfred Stevens, Jean-Louis Forain and Félicien Rops.

In this flourishing context, François Gailliard was enabled to present his first painting at the 1881 Brussels Salon. He then managed to place his works on the walls of the Salon des Artistes Français de Paris, in which he participated from 1882 to 1891. Gailliard not only exhibited in France and Belgium, but also in Berlin in 1886. His subjects consisted in large canvases, presenting genre scenes, portraits and landscapes. The painter thus multiplied the subjects depicting life in the heart of the particularly lively Brussels streets. He also devoted himself to the genre of the nude: languid women with generous and harmonious curves are presented on his canvases. In addition, he also does many news cartoons, presented in French, Belgian and English weekly newspapers such as Le patriote illustréLe petit bleu, and the London Illustrated News.

However, as early as 1888, the artist discovered a new palette, as well as another way of translating light, on the occasion of his travels in Greece and Italy, which left a lasting mark on his artistic production. Inspired by the French Impressionist School, he experimented with the technique of the "luminist-divisionist", also known as chomo-luminarism, a pictorial movement emerging at the end of the 19th century, founded by George Seurat. The latter, associated with the neo-impressionist practice of pointillism, chose to develop a new management of colours: small patches of pure colours were juxtaposed next to each other, forcing the viewer's eye to combine them. This conjunction of tones was achieved in order to obtain a particularly pure and bright light. Making this new aesthetic his own, Frantz Gailliard developed his own process called "Juspage", consisting of spraying the paint with a spray, or a hard brush. The projection of the droplets made it possible to create more progressive gradations, as well as softer shadows.

Becoming the director of the Academy of Fine Arts of Saint Gilles, now known as his son, Jean-Jacques Gailliard, the artist gained clear recognition.

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