1867 - 1952
René Seyssaud was born to Vauclusian parents and spent his childhood near Ventoux at Villes-sur-Auzon in an ancestral farm, Pézet house. From a very early age he showed an aptitude for drawing and painting. He entered the École des Beaux-Arts in Marseilles, and from 1885 he went to the studio of Pierre Grivolas at the École des Beaux-Arts in Avignon. He was soon noticed by his teachers for the boldness of his technique and his colouring. He brought back paintings from periods in the Var and the Bouches-du-Rhône. In 1892 he painted a canvas in the Vaucluse, Chestnut Trees, using colours in their pure state with broad strokes and a surprising harmony, thus taking his place, along with Valtat, among the precursors of Fauvism. On the 27 April 1901 Thiebault Sisson wrote in Le Temps: ‘We should give first place here to someone who is like no one else, who is a part of no group and who owes nothing to anyone except himself. Seyssaud, this solitary, unsociable man from Provence, has made himself, a long way from Paris, into a master.’
His work is considerable, having an extraordinary unity of style, almost wild and brutish. It is admired for its richness of colour and for its violence. He also did many large decorative compositions. He settled at Villes-sur-Auzon where for 20 years he painted, while suffering from tuberculosis. In 1904, completely cured, he lived at St-Chamas near Lake Berry and led a hermit’s existence dedicated to his art, to simple poetry and to his family. He refused all contracts offered and proposals made, among these an offer from Vollard. Late in life he won the Grand Prix d’Honneur des Provinces Françaises at the Menton Biennale in 1951. He was an Officer of the Légion d’Honneur.
He took part in public exhibitions mainly in Paris: 1892, Salon du Champ de Mars, then at the Salon d’Automne, Salon des Tuileries and the Salon des Indépendants; 1937, Masters of Independent Art; 1951, Biennale de Menton. He has been represented posthumously in public exhibitions such as: 2001, Women in Provence and the Mediterranean ( La Femme en Provence et en Méditerranée), Fondation Regards de Provence, Chateau de Borély, Marseilles. He showed his works in solo exhibitions in Paris in 1897 at the Le Barc de Boutteville, from 1899 at the Galerie Vollard and also at the Galerie Bernheim. In 2003 the Musée Zierne at Martigues devoted a show to him under the title Rene Seyssaud (1867-1952): Another Nature.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Marseilles (Mus. Cantini): St-Chamas, the Old Roofs
Paris (Mus. du Petit Palais)