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Largest exhibition of Valette to be seen in commercial gallery comes to Manchester

Your chance to own artwork by one of Manchester's favourite adopted sons
Portrait of Adolph Valette

Ask most Mancunians to name a well known Manchester artist and the answer most people will give immediately will be Lowry (even if Salfordians might argue he is one of theirs).

Most people would probably struggle to name another.

Some might come up with the name of an artist who wasn’t even British let alone a native Mancunian, who isn’t well known outside Manchester but who has a blue plaque on the site of Manchester School of Art on Grosvenor Street where he was a student and subsequently a teacher.


Adolphe Valette was born in France in 1876 in the industrial town of St Etienne and came to England in 1904, eventually settling in Manchester.

He is well known in Manchester for two reasons – a remarkable series of Impressionist views of the city, and his influence on his best-known pupil, LS Lowry, who said “I cannot over-estimate the effect on me of the coming into this drab city of Adolphe Valette…”

Valette resigned from the Manchester Municipal School of Art In 1920 owing to ill health but remained in the north west for eight more years, during which time he was involved in private art tuition.

In 1928 he returned to Paris, and later moved to Blacé en Beaujolais, where he painted portraits and country landscapes. He died there on April 18th, 1942, aged 65.

Saw beauty in the city

Lowry wasn’t the first artist to paint Manchester cityscapes. That was Valette.

“He painted urban architecture, waterways, industry, the pollution and smog,” wrote curator and author Cecilia Lyon.  “He was the first painter to paint Manchester, the first to see the beauty in the hard working city”.

Despite his teaching commitments, he produced a significant body of work, including paintings, drawings – both pastel and watercolour – engravings, etchings, and lithographs

Some of his most well known paintings are urban landscapes of Manchester, some of which can be seen at Manchester Art Gallery.

Like many other artists, Valette had to supplement his income through commercial activities including private decorations for individual homes, church decorations, commercial poster designs and textile designs.

If you’re interested in owning some of his work, an exhibition of never-before-seen textile designs by Valette can be seen at one of Manchester’s leading commercial galleries.

Textile designs

The exhibition comprises a collection of floral designs made by Valette for textiles. Created at the end of the century, these delicate blooms show the artist’s skill as a draughtsman. Some works feature text by the artist, coding systems and colour palette studies showing the hidden processes behind design manufacturing

With over 70 works on display, this show is the largest exhibition of Valette’s paintings to be seen at a commercial gallery.

“These works will surprise people,” says gallery owner Alex Reuben. “Although they are around 100 years old, they are a beautiful mix of exquisite vibrant floral paintings, some with a Japanese influence and many with colourful birds. They reinforce what we already knew, that he was a superb draughtsman who never stopped creating”.

Pierre Adolphe Valette – Art Botanique is at Contemporary Six, 37 Princess Street, Manchester, M2 4FN 27th April – 18th May 2024. Preview: 27th April – 10:30am to 5:00pm.

All artwork will be available to purchase from Friday 26th at 5:00pm online.

The gallery offers the Own Art scheme, which allows you to split payments over ten months, interest-free, making quality art more accessible. For example, a £500 painting would cost only £50 per month over ten months.

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