This article was written by Andry-Farcy (1882-1949) who wished to pay tribute to Jacqueline Marval, a daughter of the soil. Andry-Farcy was a curator of the Painting and Sculpture Museum of   Grenoble from 1919 till 1949.


Jacqueline Marval, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, c 1905.

Last May 31st, the group made up of the most famous painters, sculptors, art critics of the neo-impressionism, led to the Saint Ouen cemetery the funeral procession of an amazing French artist, an inhabitant of the Dauphiné: Jacqueline Marval. We have decided to engrave on this article a few memories and documents dealing with the life of this famous painter, before time takes them away.  

It is in the small village of QUAIX, ISÈRE, close to Grenoble – where her father and mother, André Vallet and Marie Vallet were teachers – which Jacqueline Marval, Marie-Joséphine Vallet’s real name, was born in October 1866. Teachers at the time led a life of hardship and Marie-Joséphine was the second child of a family who already lived modestly and who was later going to count eight children. Our heroine had to study in order to become one day a teacher, she studied without conviction. She was assigned as a substitute teacher in Arzay, hamlet close to the Saint-André Coast, the disruptive neophyte stunned her school principal, to the point of saying in a friendly astonished tone:

“But, dear, the Lord must have created you in the air!”

This beautiful girl was at the time eighteen years old: a wonderful complexion, sane, full of life, with great features. intelligence was always there, big confusing eyes with looks that were whether slow or sharp… 

A short time after, she married M. Albert Valentine, a travelling salesman from Châtillon-en-Dios, with whom she had a son, Charles Valentin. But the child died at the age of six months. A disaster that destroyed the marriage and put her in such a deep sorrow that she had mental troubles close to craziness; the health of this great and sensitive nervous woman quickly faded until the day when a surgical operation was judged necessary. The couple first lived in Romans, and then settled in Grenoble, 8 quai Xavier-Jouvin, in an apartment on the second floor. The life of the couple started to be shattered by violent scenes that became more and more frequent and their daily life turned out to be unbearable. That’s when – after 7 years of marriage – during 1891, that this mourned mother left her husband, used her last name again, and went to live for a while with her grandparents whose property was located rue de la Caronnerie in La Tronche. However the same year she rented a small room that overlooked the courtyard, at the n° 43 rue Saint-Laurent, in Grenoble, at Madam Berruteau’s, where she lived from 1891 till 1895…

Jacqueline Marval, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, c 1907.

Jacqueline Marval, c 1907

Jacqueline Marval, c 1907

It was a tricky situation; however the woman who would soon become Marval had for herself this attitude full of life, this taste for risk and an adventurous self confidence that only the enthusiastic people and strong ones have. Interested in the paintings that the picture framers of the town exhibited, she immediately noticed the best artists in Grenoble at the time: Achard, Blach, Girardot, Flandrin, Guiguet, Pachot, Girote, Fantin-Latour, Firmin and Gauthier. While painting outside, she met a few of them, among them was Jules Flandrin, who was in the early stages of his career and longed for studying in Paris. During this period she also felt attracted by same mirage. Lost in the Great City, the courageous vest maker from Grenoble kept leading her double life of female worker and artist, sometimes being close to misery. She lived 9 rue de Campagne-Première. 

Her artistic tastes, bold and precise, clearly expressed along with a wild spirit, quickly brought her respect from the young painters of the time, in which the avant-gardist amateur elite put their hopes in. It was the time of impressionism during its decline after its glorious and revolutionary epic period that was so exhilarating, while the neo impressionism that was arriving with Bonnard, Vuillard, Maurice Denis, Valotton, K-X. Roussel, Odilon Redon, was going to be magnified by “Fauvism” where it was possible to predict the future keen interest and glorious period. 

Thus, it is this young group of artists called “Fauves” (The Wild Beasts): Henri Matisse, E-O Friesz, Marquet, Van Dongen, Dunoyer de Segonzac, Baignières Rouault, Raoul Dufy and even Picasso, who were impressed by Jacqueline Marval’s first paintings that were guided and strongly acclaimed by her nice friend Charles Guérin who gave her advice due to his experience in the field. 

First a strange flower, then small bouquets, to quickly lead to these sprays already filled with amazing clearness, then came the great painting of the “Odalisques”. All these paintings were signed with her new and pretty name: 

Jacqueline Marval, (Marie Vallet)

Since 1901 these paintings have established the reputation of this amazingly talented woman in the Salons and avant-gardist exhibitions, such as the one of the Indépendants and the one of the Automne.

Painters, sculptors and the most aspiring artists of the time, and who since have made a name for themselves; Marval was hailed the Berthe Morisot of the new generation by art critics. During the openings, where she came as a queen, young French and international people as well as intellectuals acclaimed her. 

It was fame. 

After having left her small studio rue Campagne-Première and having settled down during two or three years at the n° 40 rue Denfert Rochereau, close to her friend Van Dongen, she chose an apartment close to Notre-Dame, located 19 quai Saint-Michel, in the same house where used to live Henri Matisse and Albert Marquet and right on top of Vanier’s store, a publisher and Paul Verlaine’s printer. 

Her studio with its rare and gorgeous fabrics along with its pretty modern bibelots saw the masters of the time, people from the high finance and great industry flooding into the space. 

But it’s with clairvoyance that Marval always knew how to choose her friends and her relationships.  She managed to stay away from people who did not enjoy her beautiful heart and her wild personality. 

Here is the word that completely describes this beautiful nature with successive moods such as sweetness and violence. 

Her native Dauphiné can keep a grateful and respectful memory of her unforgettable generosity which during several years, was used in favor of the Museum of Grenoble. 

Not only she gave numerous works but she also made sure that her friends would manage to convince the best artists to also give their works. She led an active campaign for the new methods in terms of museology, which at the time were only used in Grenoble, for our local collections of living art. 

Thus it is difficult to hold this strange dislike that she enjoyed showing towards the Dauphiné and the inhabitants of the Dauphiné against her. Actually there was not such a thing. Everything was just a joke: even when she refused to register as an inhabitant of the Dauphiné on the leaflet of the exhibition catalogues. 

“It is the small Vallet who was born in Quaix, she kept saying in a sarcastic way, but as far as Marval is concerned, it is only in Paris that she was born and started to see clearly!”

It is true that this art made of flowers along with women could only open up inside the “City of Light”. Let’s remind for her own sake that in the Dauphiné she had a childhood often difficult from which she kept few happy memories. However it did not prevent her the first years from coming back there during the holidays to rest in the property of her grandparents, in La Tronche. 

She never agreed to exhibit her work for any type of event that was organized by artistic societies of Grenoble: she even often violently refused that her works were exhibited. Thus it is disappointing that in order to respect her will the next Salons d’Arts in Grenoble will never be able to exhibit the talent of this wonderful artist from the Dauphiné. 

The happy days were over soon. The years when Marval was keen on the Russian Ballets were far, she drew inspiration from the bold free range of colors that they brought to the art of this time. She shared with the tailor Paul Poiret the same keen interest that the public had. It’s during this period that she was chosen by Astruc, with the sculptor Bourdelle and Maurice Denis, to decorate the famous Theater of the Champs-Elysées.  

The years after the war were for her productive. Like fireworks, her bouquets had a lot of substance at the image of the numerous artistic events that took place at the time with a will to catch up with the lost days. However then came the time when success became boring; - the strains of a life filled with constant struggles and easy work only in appearances were followed by loneliness which saddened Marval’s last years. 

Her beautiful health faded. 

Then curiosity motivated the old enthusiasms to follow new trails in the race for fame. 

It is however without bitterness that she took herself to bed surrounded by comforting friends and their unfailing fondness for her. They remained true to her until the end. A small group of people: only people who remained from her golden days. One day René-Jean who was worried came with his friend doctor Worms to visit the sick woman without letting her know. The doctor emergently admitted her to his department at the Hospital Bichat, where she died a few days later on May 28th, 1932. In this small room also fell asleep forever another magician of the French delicacy: Paul Verlaine. 

"Chance – other would say Providence – sometimes realizes eery conciliations like the one that today brings closer together both the memory of the poor « Lélian » and the one of our dear Marval."