Son of a farmer, he was born in Places, a group of houses situated above Le Pont, along the road that joins this village to Pétra-Félix. He was destined to join the family farm, but, still quite young; he was drawn to painting, creating his first work when he was 14. It was an oil painting depicting his family’s life. The setting is the front of the house in which he was born, a subject that Tell, throughout his painting career, will return to again and again.
Later, after his twentieth year, Tell will leave the paternal home in search of art. He goes to different painting academies, notably in Lausanne and Paris. He travels a lot. He returns home often to give his parents a hand with the harvest. But however, his path is henceforth clear: he will be a painter.
Tell Rochat remains single, and thus devotes himself entirely to his passion. He suffers from diabetes. This illness disables him. Even the climate of the Valley of Joux turns out to be too hard for him. He buys a small home in the lowlands, in Villars-sous-Yens.
If up to this point, his work has been especially attached to the sites which he discovered during his numerous trips; it is the Valley of Joux which he will never forget and paint thoroughly; but his newly adopted earth suddenly confides overpowering attraction for him. As a result, he paints numerous canvasses of the Foot of Jura, whose soft lines accord with his style. He notably excels in painting the fields of ripe wheat at harvest time, with its famous ‘moyettes’: piles of sheaves of wheat lying in the fields. He reveals a masterly brushstroke, a little like Van Gogh. There are veritable masterpieces in his output.
Tell Rochat exhibited regularly, notably numerous times in the big hall of his village, where he acquired some success. The criticisms, not from a circle of people learned about painting, but from journalists, were not however always favourable. They found it rather difficult to penetrate into this work, which is certainly irregular, but has true gems amongst its mass of 700 works.
Tell also excelled at portrait painting. In it, more than in the rest of his production, he showed himself a grand master. His self-portraits are always splendid; those of his friends are full of tenderness. One senses in his work and in this genre a definite influence of Cézanne.
He died without knowing that lovers of his paintings will never forget him !