Félix Vallotton (1865 – 1925)
The portrait of Gabrielle Vallotton is the last portrait the painter made of his wife. The Swiss artist came from a simple background and had had a strict Calvinist upbringing. After moving to Paris in 1882, Vallotton experienced hard years. His marriage to Gabrielle in 1899 changed his circumstances abruptly. Now he belonged to the Parisian bourgeoisie and he could devote himself entirely to painting. The marriage was also increasingly unhappy. The social gulf between the two led to insurmountable problems that find expression in the portrait: in upperclass manner Gabrielle gazes down from an elevated position at her painter-husband. Whereas in his earlier works she appears relaxed and cheerful she now embodies indifference and lack of communication. The fragmented color tones also emphasize the conflict-ridden atmosphere.