Joseph Le Tessier


Joseph Le Tessier was born in Marseille in 1867.  His mother, an amateur artist and descendant of the sculptor Simon, saw in her son at an early age an inate faculty for the arts.  His father, an established merchant, saw things otherwise. The paternal taste for profit obliged Joseph to study business in Lyon. Armed with the necessary diplomas, he immersed himself in the business. He lasted ten years.

At 33 in 1900, he left his job and gave himself, body and soul, to painting, voraciously studying works of the painters from Lyon, Carrand, Vernay, and Ravier. His first and last exhibition took place in Lyon in 1911. It was a triumph.

During World War I, Le Tessier, his wife and their daughter Marthe, settled in Yonne, then in Voutenay, and finally, Vincennes in 1925. He painted numerous oils in small formats in the nabi model favoured by Emile Bernard and Paul Serusier.

 In 1933, the Le Tessier family landed in the middle of the country in the south of Aisne in Noroy-sur-Ourcq, a a small village perched on the heights, overlooking the valley of the Ourcq. In a vital impulse, the 66 year old painter suddenly achieved triumph in an explosion of colors, and permanent fireworks! From morning till night, he walked the Orxois' paths, his painter's gear under the arm.

The painter "with the illuminated" palette died in July 1949, at the age of 82, leaving behind him more than six hundred paintings and not a penny. Three years after his death, a retrospective of his work takes place in Lyon. Unanimously, the art critics praised Le Tessier's uncommon genius.

Biography
by Noël Coret

The great majority of Joseph Le Tessier’s works belong to the still life and landscape genres. Yet, Joseph Le Tessier devoted most of his work to landscape.

Born in Marseille, he was destined for a high post in the commercial world when art literally “snapped him up”. In his first phase, he was an adept to Barbizon’s plain air painting and he adhered to the cloisonnism so dear to the École de Pont-Aven before definitively embracing the Monticelli and the École Lyonnaise tradition. Today, Joseph Le Tessier is regarded as the most prominent heir to that school’s great figures (Carrand, Vernay and Ravier) who, at the same time as the Ile-de-France impressionists, revolutionized painting at the end of the 19th century.

Settled in Noroy-sur-Ourq in 1933, Joseph Le Tessier spent the last fifteen years of his life celebrating the Orxois landscapes which he glorified with a rare chromatic intensity. The artist and his family lived in a small village perched in the heights of the Ourcq Valley between Neuilly-Saint-Front and La Ferté-Milon. Their utter destitution explains the artist’s use of very unsophisticated supports such as cardboard sheets or plywood panels, and the small size of his canvases. This peculiarity coupled with the extremely rich and powerful matter of his gleaming colors adds to the compelling originality of Le Tessier’s work.  His expressionistic technique allowed his palette to reach utmost intensity attests an almost convulsive and dramatic approach to nature.

Praised by the most influential critics of his time, Joseph Le Tessier’s art is in the Monticelli, Ravier and Van Gogh tradition. It is also reminiscent of that Soutine and German Visionary Expressionism.  With the presentation of a hundred paintings from private collections and museums, the town of Soissons is paying homage to a great local figure. Joseph Le Tessier applied most of his passion and talent to this very unique region (the south of the Aisne River).

Collections
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, France
Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, France
Musée des Beaux Arts de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec
National Museum of History and Art, Luxembourg
Town of Soissons Municipal Museum