Hector Trotin (1894-1966)

The son of an antique dealer, he refused to learn a trade and on the death of his father proceeded to sell his shop and embarked on a life of dissipation. However as the money dried up and liver cirrhosis beckoned he turned to his artistic talents to scratch a living. He recoloured old maps for dealers, faked drawings from the 1830s and produced ‘antiqued’ trade signs for shopkeepers looking to imply longevity. From the shop signs emerged the paintings, colourful tributes to the Paris of his childhood in a distinctive naive style. While poverty drove him to paint it also held him back, as every work had to be sold instantly he found it impossible to build up a body of work that the dealers required for the solo shows that would have made his name. In 1953 a painting professor Heinz Poreb came across a Trotin oil for sale in a junk shop in Saint-Germaindes-Prés. He showed the work to the Munich dealer Dr Hans Fetscherin who instantly saw its potential. On contacting the junk shop owner, Fetscherin found that Trotin was, as ever, uninterested in fame and long-term projects. Undeterred, the Bavarian dealer built up a small body of work by buying a few pieces each time he returned to Paris. By 1957 he had enough to hold the first Trotin exhibition in Munich. An article in Der Spiegl covered the event and the obscure French naive painter was launched on the international art market.

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