A student of the Orientalist painter Benjamin Constant and the French academic painter Jules Lefebre at the Académie Julian in Paris, Louis Abel-Truchet is hailed as a prominent figure of the teeming art world of Paris in the latter half of the 19th century. From 1891 onwards this young artist exhibited his work at various Salons, including the Salon d'Automne, the Salon des Humoristes (of which he was one of the founders), the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (of which he was a member from 1910), and the Salon des Artistes Français.
Abel-Truchet's scenes like A L'Opera from 1902 celebrated an elegant evening with the upper crust of French "Belle Epoque" (Beautiful Era) society bedecked in glorious couture fashion. The works of Louis Abel-Truchet often recorded the bustle and gaiety of the Parisian streets and cafes with their joyous crowds. An early French Impressionist, Abel-Truchet could point to his most successful canvases that depicted the cafés of Montmartre, Monte Carlo, and Avignon especially at nightfall as well as the canals of Venice. Out of all the Impressionist painters Abel-Truchet was one of the few who approached the task of articulating nighttime café scenes.
In this instance the artist has richly captured the "Golden Age" of France, a time of significant peace, prosperity, and advancements in medicine, science, technology, and architecture. Similar in subject matter to our painting entitled A L'Opera which also dates from 1902 and also by the hand of Abel Truchet, this example is instead a closer upfront "snapshot" of the well-heeled opera crowd from a slightly different angle. Perhaps Abel-Truchet was experimenting with the representation of this classic scene of Paris nightlife. Like its counterpart this picture lacks the satirical judgment for which Abel's contemporary and counterpart Toulouse-Lautrec was often known and instead portrays the elite social class of Paris with their affluence and luxury on display in the course of their artistic pursuits. Abel-Truchet often used a thicker paint application as well as a richer color palette that more closely resembled the approach of Sorolla. He also would typically employ a modicum of detail to capture the atmosphere, costumes, and stances of the richly festooned scene before him as in our A L'Opera. The fact that Abel-Truchet used a more flamboyant paint application coupled with the large number of figures he chose to articulate especially in our example made his pictures more attractive and valuable. Artists like Abel-Truchet captured the fin-de-siècle feel of Paris with all its opulence and hope for an endlessly brighter future which still holds an allure to buyers of this day.
Private Collection, Paris