Paule Gobillard was born in Quimperlé (Brittany) in 1869 and died in Paris at the age of 77, after a long illness. She is considered a post-impressionist from the French school.
Her father was an ex-military man who turned to finance and her mother was a brilliant judge. Paule was thus blessed with an exceptional "entourage". She was surrounded by her parent friends Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Edgar Degas (1834-1917), Jean Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) and Odilôn Redon (1840-1916). They were also eminent members of France’s political and social world. With such an artistic atmosphere and with the guidance of her brilliant aunt Berthe Morisot (1841-1895), Paule would develop in to an excellent painter and pastellist (as even the ever hard-to-please Degas would admit).
Berthe Morisot executed ten portraits of Paule during her successful career as an impressionist. Most of which are in now French and Foreign museums. Symbolist Odilôn Redon (1840-1916) painted a magnificent portrait of Paule Gobillard, which pinpointed her intellectual qualities and her natural beauty. Edgar Degas painted two portraits of her mother (an oil and a pastel, now at the Metropolitan Museum of New York).
Paule would accept the advise of Berthe Morisot to study painting in the atelier of figure painter Henri Gervex (1852-1929) and Morisot also encouraged her to spend time in the Louvre studying the old masters. Paule would execute several copies at the Louvre but her faithful copy of Titian’s "Concert in the fields" would capture a very original atmosphere that would be present in all her future work.
Paule would often travel to Mézy where Eugene Manet and Berthe Morisot had a country house. She would draw and paint in the gardens alongside her aunt. While in Mézy, she executed a number of very beautiful pastels characterized by the typical light found only in the lIe de France and by the subtlest use of colour graduations.
When Berthe died in 1895, Julie Manet, the daughter of Berthe, and her cousins Paule and Jeannie would live together at n°40, rue de Villejust (today called rue Paul Valéry) in the house built by Berthe and her husband, Eugene.
They lived in a state of freedom (rare at that time) and surrounded by the greatest painters and one of France’s most famous poets Stéphane Mallarmé, who was Julie’s tutor as Auguste Renoir was Paule’s. The three girls would visit the Renoir family in Normandy at the village of Essoyes.
In 1900, the double marriage of Julie Manet to Ernest Rouart (son of Henri Rouart), the famous collector and painter and the marriage of Jeannie, younger sister of Paule, to Paul Valéry, a writer, would take place. The double marriage ceremonies symbolized the couple’s friendship, which lasted a lifetime. Paule, who was like a daughter to the Valérys, would live most of her adult life with them in the house built by Berthe Morisot. She would also spend her summers with her sister at the Rouart family’s exquisite Château Le Mesnil.
The Château Le Mesnil and the surrounding countryside would provide an enormous inspiration to Paule and her work. She painted several lyrical landscapes, wonderful still lifes with a "fauvist" influence, portraits of adults and children. Most collectors consider this is her best period. Many of the paintings from this period exhibit the soft palette and influence of her aunt Berthe Morisot.
In 1906, Paule became a member of the "Salon d’Automne" where she exhibited regularly. She also exhibited Durand Ruel, Petit, Druet and Galerie Bernbeim Jeune. She was part of group including D’Espagnat, Maurice Denis, Vuillard, Bonnard, Marquet and Valtat. She was very close to the art critic Felix Fénéon.
She exhibited in Japan, the United States and Denmark. The Valérys would travel with Paule to all of here international exhibitions. During all her trips, Paule continued painting using living models during concerts and lectures and sometimes depicting them with a caustic sense of humor
In 1948, the poet Leon-Paul Fargues wrote a very eulogistic article on her on the first page of "Figaro" under the heading "The friend of painters and poets." The same year D’Espagnat wrote the preface to the catalog of her retrospective exhibition at Durand-Ruel.