French painter and printmaker, Gaston La Touch consigned over fifteen years of his work to the flames of his fireplace all in a single evening in 1891. He did so out of frustration and a sense of failure. Most admirers of the painter's later work might not recognize the somber and darker canvases that he destroyed on that fateful evening.
From that point onward, however, he would work with his mentor to distance himself from Realism and enter into the style of Idealism similar to the Impressionists, though with an element of the fantastic that was far removed from the school's well known canvases.
La Touche had never received formal training and turned to his peers and mentors for guidance and inspiration. The most significant acquaintance of his life was his ongoing friendship with Felix Bracquemond, a painter, engraver, ceramicist and lithographer who understood La Touche's influences far more clearly than he himself would. Bracquemond encouraged him to abandon his low key colors and subject matter and to focus instead on the full spectrum of color.
La Touche would receive further inspiration from Edouard Manet who he had befriended in the Caf� de la Nouvelle-Athenes in the 1870s. Though he would not be influenced by Manet's style, he valued the man's ideas which placed an emphasis on truth in both life and art, which would help him later in his career.
He began producing fanciful images of parks and gardens and happy celebrations, in settings full of color and light. Once he began to exhibit these works he would also begin to receive great recognition for his new and innovative style. He won numerous awards beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, and was awarded the Legion d'honneur in 1900.
Until the time of his death he would exhibit frequently, and accept many official commissions. He continued to win honors and his works continued to find popular acceptance. He died suddenly in July of 1913.