Oil on canvas
25 3/4 x 36 1/4 inches (65.3 x 92 cm.)
Framed: 38 1/2 x 49 inches (98 x 124.5 cm.)
Signed and dated: Luce 1914-15
Sale, Christie’s, London, 6/30/99, lot 172
Sale, Anaf, Lyon, 2/6/2000
Sale, Kohn, Deauville, 8/17/2000, lot 421
Sale, Sotheby’s, NY 11/10/2000, lot 365
RS Johnson Fine Art, Chicago
Private Collection, CT
Denise Bazetoux, Maximilien Luce: Catalogue Raisonee de l’Oeuvre Peint, Paris, 2005, Vol 3, pp.33, 207, no. 931, illustrated
Considered one of the most important Post Impressionists, Maximilien Luce was born to working-class parents in mid-19th century Paris. At the age of 14, he began a career as a commercial engraver, which he continued until 1877, at which point he took a trip to England. He returned the following year to serve in the military and upon completion, returned to the city of his birth.
Revolutionary in both his art and his politics, Luce was a familiar figure in the popular cafes of late 19th century Paris. Luce studied under Carolus-Duran before perfecting his drawing skills at the Ecole de dessin des Gobelins. By far, the most influential of Luce’s mentors was Camille Pissarro. Pissarro not only taught Luce the techniques of landscape painting but also shared with the budding artist his love of nature and his sincere friendship.
The versatile Luce, like many of his contemporaries, experimented with several of the modern painting techniques and schools developing in France during his career. Luce’s affiliation with Pissarro led to a shared fascination with the Divisionist technique and the scientific analyses of Georges Seurat. Along with Seurat, Luce was exhibiting Neo-Impressionist paintings at the Salon des Independants by 1887 and later founded l’Ecole des Neo-Impressionists with Paul Signac. Luce preferred the depiction of the everyday life of the working-class rather than that of the elegant bourgeoisie.
At the turn of the century, Luce grew weary of Pointillism and reverted to the Impressionist style. The newly debuted Fauves, yet another growing artistic movement headed by Henri Matisse whereby non-naturalistic colors were used to evoke an emotional response, also influenced him. Luce created an oeuvre of astounding diversity that reflects this period of stylistic variety. He died in Paris in 1941.