Félix Vallotton made a significant contribution to the graphic arts in Paris in the last half of the 1890s, where he painted this charming gouache of pedestrian traffic on a bustling boulevard. In an extraordinary series of prints and drawings, his "snapshots" of fin-de-siècle Paris laid out a sharp visual critique of modern bourgeois society. Vallotton emerged as a force among Nabis artists in the 1890s, and this Lehman drawing is in every way exemplary of their graphic style. Its flat surface patterning, seemingly random yet carefully ordered placement of figures, dogs, and carriages, disquieting perspective, and insistent two-dimensionality all find counterparts in the drawings and prints of Nabi artists Edouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, among others. The Nabis openly drew inspiration from Japanese woodblock prints, then all the rage in Paris. Writing of Vallotton's gouache in the New York Times in 1978, John Russell noted, "The Bonnard bit and the Vuillard bit and the Toulouse-Lautrec bit are all in there at once, and none of them quite knows who's boss. But at least we look at this little piece of cardboard with a genuine sense of shock and discovery."
Signature: Signed and dated at lower right: F. VALLOTTON. 95
[Galerie Druet, Paris], 1929; sale, Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 6 April 1960, lot 276, pl. 12; to [Marianne Feilchenfeldt, Zürich]. Acquired by Robert Lehman from Feilchenfeldt in October 1960.