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George L. Viavant

George Viavant was widely acclaimed for his specialty in nature morte paintings, a style which boomed in popularity nationwide in the late nineteenth century.

George L. Viavant

Born in 1872, George Louis Viavant was a lifelong New Orleanian. As a youth he hunted and fished the swamps and bayous that were part of his father’s hunting camp on Gentilly Road. He also began to study art at an early age, beginning lessons in 1884 with Achille Perelli at the Southern Art Union. The two boyhood interests came together in the genre for which he is best known — watercolor paintings of natures mortes, works that depict dead birds and animals. He was also active in painting still lifes and landscapes.

Viavant’s talent was recognized early on, as he won an award at the New Orleans exposition when he was twelve years old. Later, he was awarded the blue ribbon for landscape at the 1884-85 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans. In 1914, he exhibited at the Art Association of New Orleans.

In 1899 Viavant elected to move his family to a rural area in eastern New Orleans, where he could focus on painting wildlife and landscapes. To achieve the highest degree of accuracy, he painted from fresh game that he had hunted or that other hunters brought to his studio. His painting Nature Morte: Pintail is an example of his work in that genre.

A daughter, Ruby, was born in 1904. She, too, showed artistic promise, but it was never realized, as she died in 1925.