In the nineteenth century, the French painter Louis Anquetin was regarded as the most promising artist of his generation. He was one of the precursors of Post-Impressionism and his work exerted a great deal of influence on the artists around him and the generations after him, such as the Pont-Aven School and the Nabis. Louis Anquetin belonged to a group of artists which included Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, George Seurat, Emile Bernard and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec ? a group Van Gogh called the artists of the Petit Boulevard. His early work shows the influence of Impressionism and of Edgar Degas. In 1887 Anquetin and Bernard devised an innovative method of painting using strong black contour lines and flat areas of color. The new style, dubbed Cloisonnisme by the critic Edouard Dujardin, resulted from a study of stained glass, Japanese prints and other so-called primitive sources, it was close to the Synthetist experiments of Paul Gauguin and was adopted briefly by van Gogh during his Arles period. Anquetin's works were shown alongside Gauguin's and Bernard's at the Cafe Volpini exhibition in 1889.
With his cloisonnist works (pictures influenced by Japanese prints and stained glass windows with flat fields of color inside thick outlines), Anquetin very rapidly gained a reputation as an innovator in the Paris art world. His characteristic restless desire for innovation constantly drove him in new stylistic directions.
In 1889, Anquetin moved his studio from the alternative artists quarter of Montmartre to the more sophisticated rue de Rome, where he found his subject in mysterious women of the night, captured in elegant shapes and fine contours. Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night is a splendid example.
1891 was an absolute bumper year for the artist. He exhibited ten works at the most important exhibition for modern artists ? the Salon des Indépendants ? including Woman on the Champs-Élysées by night. The Parisian art critics praised the work at length, referring to it as one of the highlights of that exhibition season and an outstanding work in Anquetin?s oeuvre.
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