Pierre Valette has been called a pioneer of Impressionism – the ‘Monet of Manchester.’ Several of his striking paintings are on display at the Manchester City Art gallery. While he often paints a grimy and frequently damp Manchester, he does so with grace and beauty.
Pierre Adolphe Valette (1876 – 1942) was born in St Etienne in central France in 1876, and studied at Bordeaux. In 1905 he settled in Manchester and in 1907 joined the staff of the Manchester Municipal School of Art, in Cavendish Street, now part of the All Saints Campus of the Metropolitan University. Some of his paintings of the area around All Saints are particularly memorable.
Valette’s style of teaching was, at that time, different from his colleagues. He taught by actively demonstrating to his pupils. One of his pupils was particularly taken with his style – the famous Salford and Manchester artist L S Lowry.
Lowry was greatly impressed by Valette. He called him “… a dedicated teacher,” Lowry added: “I cannot over-estimate the effect on me of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette, full of French impressionists, aware of everything that was going on in Paris.” Valette inspired Lowry in bringing to life, through art, the industrial landscapes of Manchester.
Not all Valette’s work was of industrial Manchester. He also painted portraits, country scenes, beach scenes and still life. It is, however, for his Manchester period of painting that he is chiefly remembered.
The lovely delicate painting of Victoria Park, and St Chrysostom’s Church, above, is in a private collection. It dates from 1909, a few years after the church had been rebuilt. The painting captures the privacy and uniqueness of Victoria Park of that time, while also hinting at a growing busy-ness in the area.
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