HAWKINS, Louis Welden
(b. 1849, Stuttgart, d. 1910, Paris)

Biography

French painter, born in Germany. He was the son of a British naval officer and his Austrian wife, Louise Sopransi, Baroness von Welden. His childhood was spent in England, but at the age of fifteen he was sent to sea. In 1870, when he was in his early twenties, he left the Royal Navy, and settled in Paris with the intention of becoming an artist. He lived in France all his life from this time forward, and in 1895 took French nationality.

In Paris Hawkins joined the Anglo-American circle of artists many of whom were students at the Académie Julian, and in addition was one of the many young artists of different nationalities who visited Grez-sur-Loing, as students of Jules Bastien-Lepage. Early works by Hawkins such as Les Orphelins (Hôtel de Ville, Pouyatruc), of 1881, show the influence of Bastien-Lepage, with their distinctive flattened picture space and muted colours. In the later 1880s Hawkins adopted the monumental style of Puvis de Chavannes, as seen in works such as La Procession des âmes (private collection, Paris).

In the 1890s Hawkins came into contact with various writers and poets associated with the nascent Symbolist movement, including Paul Adam (who was supposed to have first applied the word Symbolism to the contemporary literary movement), and Stéphane Mallarmé. In 1894-95, Hawkins was invited to exhibit at the Salon de la Rose+Croix. In addition, he worked as an illustrator for the periodical L'Oeuvre d'Art International and was known for his designs for painted masks. Hawkins' later paintings and designs are quintessential products of the French decadence.

He spent his last years in Brittany, where he painted mostly landscapes.