"The Large Cloud"
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Félix Vallotton, in full Félix Edouard Vallotton, was Swiss-born French graphic artist and painter known for his paintings of nudes and interiors and in particular for his distinctive woodcuts. Vallotton was raised in a traditional bourgeois and Protestant household. After completing secondary school, he left Lausanne in 1882 for Paris to pursue art studies. Though he was accepted by the École des Beaux-Arts, he chose to attend the less traditional Académie Julian, where he studied with French painters Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger and enjoyed virtually free rein over his pursuits. He took the opportunity to study graphic arts—lithography and other methods of printmaking. He exhibited publicly for the first time in 1885 at the Salon des Artistes Français—the oil painting Portrait of Monsieur Ursenbach, the subject of which was an American mathematician and neighbor of the artist. In 1889 Vallotton exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris as the representative from Switzerland and won honourable mention for the same portrait. While at the Académie Julian, Vallotton had become friends with and protégè of artist and printmaker Charles Maurin, who introduced him to the art of woodcut. Maurin also introduced Vallotton to the haunts of Montmartre—the cafés and cabarets such as Le Chat Noir, where he met artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Vallotton moved to live near Montparnasse, the city’s slumlike breeding ground for artists, poets, musicians, and writers, as he drew closer to Toulouse-Lautrec and the bohemian culture of Paris. To make ends meet, he began selling prints of drawings he had made after Rembrandt and Jean-François Millet. In 1890 he also began contributing art reviews to the Gazette de Lausanne, an appointment he maintained through 1897.