André Breton was so struck by this drawing that he told Jean Dubuffet he had to have it. We gave it to him. He called it Imperial Violets.
- Dr. Jacqueline Porret-Forel
Born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Aloïse Corbaz completed a traditional education before finding work as a governess at the court of Kaiser Wilhelm II in Potsdam, where she fell into an imagined love affair with the monarch. This feeling of infatuation would later infiltrate her art in the form of embracing couples and courtly scenes, and the works embody the artist’s romantic fantasies. Her figures are characterized by large, oval eyes that were, according to the artist, not eyes but a form of disguise because they “were embarrassed when it came to kissing.”
Artist Jean Dubuffet was a great advocate for untrained artmakers and coined the term art brut, meaning, literally, “raw art.” He and renowned surrealist André Breton, among others, established the Compagnie de l’Art Brut in 1948 as an organization dedicated to preserving this type of work. Dubuffet first saw Corbaz’s art around 1946, and he visited her on multiple occasions. Breton was also entranced by her drawings, and Aristoloches was in his personal collection: per Dr. Jacqueline Porret-Forel, who first introduced Dubuffet to Corbaz, “Breton was so struck by this drawing that he told Jean Dubuffet he had to have it. We gave it to him [from the Compagnie's collection]. He called it Imperial Violets.” (Aloïse Corbaz Catalogue Raisonne Electronique, http://www.aloise-corbaz.ch/werke.aspx).