Born: July 31,1875; Damville, Normandy
Died: June 9,1963; Puteaux
Jacques Villon was born Gaston Duchamp in Damville, Normandy in 1875. He learned engraving from his grandfather, and by age sixteen had completed two portraits in this medium. In 1895, he went to Paris in order to study simultaneously for careers in art and law. At this time he adopted the name Jacques Villon, made his first lithographs, and met Toulouse-Lautrec, whose work he had admired for several years. He also began contributing illustrations to Parisian newspapers. In 1899, Villon made some color lithographic posters, but few have survived. More significant were his color aquatints, which Edmond Sagot published from 1899 to 1913.
Villon’s art was one of constant growth, as he experimented with new forms and new ways of seeing. His work eventually included elegant “fin de siécle” compositions, satirical cartoons, and later, prints and paintings of cubistic design. During the earlier period, Villon was strongly influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec, and shared this artist’s interst in the demimonde of Paris. He was also fascinated by the design possibilities inherent in forms conceived as flat areas of color. That his medium was color aquatint, rather than the more spontaneous color lithography, does not diminish Villon’s contribution to this type of printmaking. Along with Robbe and Raffaiëlli, Villon established color aquatint as a viable medium for powerful, creative compositions.