Louis Soutter

(Morges 1871 - 1942 Ballaigues)

The son of a pharmacist, Soutter is related to Le Corbusier through his mother Marie-Cécile, née Jeanneret. Having shown an early interest in drawing and music, he attends the École industrielle in Lausanne and, in 1892, takes up architecture studies in Geneva, only to abandon them within the year. He then goes to Brussels to study the violin with Eugène Ysaÿe. In 1895, Louis Soutter returns to graphic art, working in Benjamin Constant’s studio in Paris. After his wedding to an American, he moves to Colorado Springs in 1897, teaching music, drawing, and painting. By 1903, he is back in Switzerland in a fragile physical and psychological condition. Until 1922, he plays the violin in the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande as well as movie halls and mountain resorts, leading the life of a dandy vagabond and increasingly alienated from society. At the age of fifty-two, he is committed by his family to a hospice for elderly men in Ballaigues in the Jura, where he takes up drawing and painting again, encouraged by Le Corbusier and René Auberjonois. Most of Soutter’s works that are extant today date from his time in Ballaigues.