Charles Filiger was born on 28 November 1863 in Thann, Alsace. At the age of twenty-two, Filinger moved to Paris, where he studied at the Académie Colarossi. In 1888, he adopted a divisionist technique and stayed for the first time in Pont-Aven, where he spent time with Paul Gauguin and met both Émile Bernard and Paul Sérusier. Filiger would exhibit at the Salon des Indépendants for the first time the following year, with his two pointillist studies garnering attention from Félix Fénéon and Théo van Rysselberghe. A deeply religious man, his subjects were often of a religious or mystical nature, and reflected his admiration for Byzantine art. In 1890, Filiger left Paris for Le Pouldu, where he would remain until 1905. Around this time (c. 1890), his work clearly demonstrates a stylistic development from pointillism to Pont-Aven synthetism. Crucially, in 1891, Filiger met Antoine de La Rochefoucauld, who would become an important patron and supporter; from 1892 to 1901 he offered Filiger a monthly stipend of 100 francs aside from any purchases.


Over the next fifteen years, Filiger remained in Le Pouldu. Though he continued to paint religious subjects in a synthetist style, particularly gouaches, his output was sporadic as he developed a severe alcohol and ether addiction. Visitors included Paul Gauguin, Alfred Jarry (who wrote an article devoted to Filiger in the September issue of Mercure de France, 1994), Roderic O’Conor and Maurice Denis. Falling into increasing poverty, he would spend between 1905 and 1915 travelling nomadically around Brittany before coming into the care of the Le Guellec family. He would live in relative anonymity for the remainder of his life, dying on 11 January 1928 in Brest. Though Filiger only exhibited on occasion during his life, he nevertheless featured in several significant exhibitions including the Salon des Indépendants, Paris (1889, 1890), Salon des XX, Brussels (1891), Salon de la Rose+Croix (1892), and an exhibition of neo-Impressionists, Synthetists and Nabis at the Galeries Durand-Ruel, Paris (1899).


Filiger remained unknown after his death until his re-discovery by André Breton in 1948, who would take pleasure in trying to track down and obtain his work. Much of Filiger’s work remains in private collections, though his work can be found in: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Brest; Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper; Musée départemental Maurice Denis (‘The Priory’), Saint-Germain-en-Laye; Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi.