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Louis Vivin
(1861-1936)

At the Ballet. Circa 1925. Oil. Private collection.

BIOGRAPHY

Louis Vivin’s first pictures were landscapes depicting the area near his birthplace, Hadol, France. As an employee of the French postal service from 1879 to 1922, he traveled frequently, earning the rank of inspector and the Palmes Academiques for a series of maps of French postal districts (which was never published). Vivin moved to Paris in 1889, where he lived with his wife in Montparnasse. He visited the Luxembourg galleries and the Louvre, where he was impressed by Corot, Courbet, and particularly by Meissonnier’s sense of detail and literal illustration. Vivin’s earlier work is generally active in mood and narrative in content, while his later work is more static, concentrating on blocks of color and form. He exhibited one painting, The Pink Flamingo, at an exhibition of pictures by postal clerks in 1889, and after 1925 he had works shown in Paris galleries through the support of the German art historian and dealer Wilhelm Uhde. Uhde promoted Vivin, along with André Bauchant, Camille Bombois, Séraphine Louis and Henri Rousseau, as one of the “Sacred Heart” group. These were the most important self-taught artists in early 20th century France.