Séraphine Louis (1864 – 1942)
Séraphine Louis is considered one of the major naive artists in France. Her patron, the German art collector and critic Wilhelm Uhde, was a connoisseur of the avantgarde and an admirer of Picasso. In 1912 Uhde moved to the French provincial town of Senlis where he hired Séraphine Louis as a housekeeper. By chance he discovered that the deeply devout woman painted in secret and was struck by the ornamental power of the works she created with her own hand-made paints. Later he paid tribute to her work in the 1928 exhibition "Painters of the Sacred Heart" in Paris. The painting “Cherries and Yellow Leaves” shows Louis’s forceful and unique handwriting. Starting in the middle of the picture Louis covers the canvas with a dense network of branches, leaves and fruits that seems to float in front of an immaterial surface. As in many of her paintings the colored ground in the lower third of the picture varies, creating new color harmonies and the impression of an apparent stability. We may suppose that this technique originated in the compositional peculiarities of the familiar votive paintings of traditional folk art.