Louis Valtat was born on 8 August 1869 in Dieppe. In 1880 his parents moved to Versailles, where the boy attended classical studies before being admitted in 1887, at the age of 17, to the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He also enrolled at the Académie Julian and met Bonnard and Albert André. From 1893 he exhibited regularly in the Salon des Indépendants. Already in 1895 he painted in Arcachon a series of studies which were exhibited the following year in the Indépendants, and were noticed by Thadée Natanson. Valtat already showed a taste for colour and a forceful style which would link him ten years later to the Fauves. But he followed an independent career, never really joining any of the various avant-garde groups he had contacts with: the neo-Impressionists, the Nabis, the Fauves and the Cubists. In 1898, Valtat spent some time in the Côte d'Azur, in Agay, a village on the Esterel hills, where he painted a series of studies which were exhibited the following year in the Galerie Durand-Ruel. He was seduced by the region, and ordered a house, "Roucas Rou" (The Red Rocks), to be built in Anthéor, not far from Agay, where he would spend every winter until 1914. He regularly visited Signac, who had settled in Saint-Tropez, and Renoir, who lived in Cagnes-sur-Mer. From 1900 to 1912, Valtat had a contract with the dealer Ambroise Vollard, which enabled him to travel to Italy in 1902 and to Algeria the following year. In 1905 he took part in the Salon d'Automne, where he exhibited six paintings, including a sea view which, when published in L'Illustration, associated him with the Fauvist group. In 1914 he gave up the Midi, and settled in a new studio in Paris. He spent the summer mainly in Normandy and in the Île-de-France, where in 1924 he bought a house in Choisel. There, he painted many landscapes and family scenes. In 1948, Valtat lost his sight as a result of a glaucoma. He died in Paris on 2 January 1952.

Marina Ferretti