Portrait Arabesque

Roger de LA FRESNAYE (Le Mans, 1885 - Grasse, 1925)

Biography



Roger de La Fresnaye enrolled at the Académie Julian in Paris in 1903 before being admitted to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts the following year. In 1908, following military service, he entered the Académie Ranson in Paris, where he studied with Paul Serusier and Maurice Denis. From 1910 La Fresnaye began exhibiting yearly at both the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. Shortly thereafter he began to be associated with a group of artists known as the Puteaux group, later known as the Section d’Or, which also included Jacques Villon, Albert Gleizes, Jean Metzinger, Juan Gris, Fernand Leger, Robert Delaunay, Frantisek Kupka and Francis Picabia, among others. These artists were attracted to Cubism but at the same time wished to move beyond the largely monochromatic or muted tones of much Cubist work, in favour of a more radical use of colour.

La Fresnaye exhibited four paintings at the first exhibition of the Section d’Or in November 1911, and took part again in the second exhibition of the group the following year. In 1914 he had his first one-man exhibition – the only one in his lifetime - at the Galerie Levesque in Paris, where he showed forty-seven paintings, sixteen drawings and twelve watercolours. By this point La Fresnaye was at the height of his career, producing paintings of still-life compositions, landscapes and figural scenes, all executed in a highly toned manner derived from Cubist principles. After serving in the infantry during the First World War, La Fresnaye was honourably discharged in 1918 after suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, from which his health never fully recovered. After the war, the artist spent much of his time in the town of Grasse in Provence, where, despite his frail condition, he continued to be productive. However, by 1922 his poor health meant that had largely stopped painting, although he continued to make drawings and watercolours, including several self-portraits. La Fresnaye died in November 1925, at the age of forty. The following year a retrospective exhibition of his work was mounted at the Galerie Barbazanges in Paris.