According to his great grandson Betrand Laferrière, the relatively little-known photographer Félix Thiollier probably began his photographic experiments as early as 1860, although his main output dates from 1880 until the early 1900s.
Thiollier was born in the provincial French town of Saint-Étienne, the youngest child of a wealthy ribbon manufacturer. After working first in the family business, Thiollier opened his own textile factory and was so successful that, by 1879, he was able to retire in order to pursue other more scholarly and artistic activities.
Although Thiollier spent his life in his provincial birthplace, he also made extensive visits to Rome and Paris and counted among his circle of friends a number of painters and photographers from the Barbizon and Fontainebleau Schools.
Like many wealthy 'independents' of his generation, Thiollier can be regarded as an empirical amateur, neither caring to join organized photographic societies, nor exhibit his own prints. While Thiollier did not believe that the new medium could equal painting, he nonetheless regarded it as an artistic activity in its own right and his work, including these remarkable tree studies, was influenced by the prevalent taste for realism and the picturesque. His prints bear the stamp of his aesthetic - that the beauty of nature should be respected through a careful choice of motif and faithful reproduction.
Fifteen photographs by Thiollier are now in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay's, Paris. His work was also the subject of a retrospective at the Musée d'Art Moderne in St. étienne in 1996.
Works by Thiollier are considered rare.