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 Maximilien Luce  (1858 - 1941)

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Lived/Active: France      Known for: figure, landscape and coastal scene paintings, lithography

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Maximilien Luce
from Auction House Records.
Notre-Dame de Paris
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Biography from Roughton Galleries,Inc:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

A painter, lithographer and draftsman, Maximilien Luce was born in Paris on March 13th, 1858 and died in the same city on February 6th, 1941.  As a youth he apprenticed to become an engraver and took evening courses to deepen his knowledge in the field.  In 1876 he entered the shop of the engraver Eugène Froment (1844-1900), a graduate of the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs, as a qualified craftsman. There, Luce worked on engraving, numerous illustrations for French newspapers as well as some for foreign periodicals.

In 1877, Luce left Paris with Froment and went to London. When he returned to France in 1879 he was called for military service, first in Brittany and then in Paris were he continued with his career as an engraver.  It was during his military service that Luce met Charles Emile Carolus-Duran (1837-1917), the famous French painter and sculpture whose students included countless artists -- both French as well as foreign, John Singer Sargent (1856-1928) for example -- who would go on to carve their niche in art history.  Luce entered Carolus-Duran’s studio, a move which not only gave him meticulous training as a draftsman, but introduced him to the leading painters of the time.

One such artist Maximilien Luce met was Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), with whom he became very good friends and who gave Luce much artistic advice.  Along with Pissarro, Georges Seurat (1859-1891) and Paul Signac (1863-1935) Luce was one of the founders of the Neo-Impressionist School (i.e. the Pointillists).  For many years Luce adhered to the Divisionist technique of color separation and theories of the scientists Michel Chevreul, Charles Henry and Ogden Rood.

In 1887, Luce joined the Société des Indépendants, after which time he consistently participated in the avant-garde group’s exhibitions.  Though landscapes made up most of his oeuvre, Luce executed some marvelous paintings of people in the Pointillist style – an aspect of his style that differentiated him from many of his fellow Neo-Impressionists.

Luce was always very interested in the worries and pains of ordinary people and attempted to honestly transmit such human plight in his portrayal of lockers, masons and other laborers whose daily work he witnessed.  In fact, in his youth, Luce had been quite struck by the notion of ‘the commune’ and he subscribed to Anarchist magazines such as La Revolte and L’assiette au beurre (literally translated as "The Plate Cooked in Butter") and was implicated in 1894 for politically incorrect behavior, for which he passed a stint in prison and subsequently recounted his adventures in his lithographic series, Mazas.

Maximilien Luce was, for a period of time, a strict Pointillist.  After 1920, however, when he began spending a large amount of time around Rolleboise, Luce started to paint in a freer manner.  Concerned very little with accolades, he did, however, accept the position of President of the Société des Artistes Indépendants in 1935 subsequent to the death of Signac, a position from which he would resign as a statement against the society’s growing posture towards restricting Jewish artists from exhibiting.

Luce made a significant contribution towards exporting Neo-Impressionism and maintained strong ties with the Belgian Pointillist Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926).  He has left us a sizable amount of work in various mediums, as he was an indefatigable artist. Maximilien Luce remains a very important figure in French Post-Impressionist Art, as a Pointillist and a social realist.

Museum Collections include:
Museum D'Orsay, Paris; National Gallery, Oslo; Museum of the Annunciation, Saint-Tropez; Kroller-Muller National Museum, Netherlands; Goteburg Art Gallery, Goteburg, Sweden; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN; Petit Palais, Geneva; National Museum of Modern Art, Paris; the Musée D’Orsay in Paris, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, N.Y., the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, and the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco, California.

Bibliography:
Henri Perruchot. La vie de Seurat. Hachette. 1966
Impressionist Art 1860-1920. Edited by Ingo F. Walther. Benedikt Taschen Verlag GmbH. 1997
Painting of Europe XIII-XX centuries Encyclopedic Dictionary Iskusstvo 1999
Neo-Impressionist Painters: A Source book on Georges Seurat, Camille Pissarro, Paul Signac, Theo Van Rysselberghe, Henri Edmond Cross, Charles Angrand by Russell T. Clement, Annick Houze. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999.

Biography from Anderson Galleries, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Provenance: Edouard Molard, Paris; Palais Galliera, Paris, December 4th, 1972, lot 82; Hotel Drouot (Guy Loudmer), Paris, March 14th, 1974, lot 140

Literature: Jean-Bouin Luce & Denise Bazetoux, Maximilien Luce, Catalogue de l'oeuvre peint, Paris, 1986, vol. II, p. 602, no. 2640, illustrated


Considered one of the most important Post Impressionists, Luce was born to working class parents in Paris in the middle of the 19th Century. He began his career as a commercial engraver at the age of fourteen, which he continued until1877 when he took a trip to England. He returned the following year to do his military service and on completion returned to the city of his birth.

Revolutionary in both his art and his politics, Maximilien Luce was a familiar figure in the popular cafes of late 19th century Paris. Luce studied under Carolus-Duran and then perfected his drawing skills at the Ecole de dessin des Gobelins. But 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 throughout 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, by 1887 Luce was exhibiting at the Salon des Independants with Neo-Impressionist paintings and founded l'Ecole des Neo-Impressionistes with Paul Signac. Luce also preferred the depiction of the everyday life of the working class rather than the elegant bourgeoisie. At the turn of the century, Luce grew weary of Pointillism and reverted back to the Impressionist style. In addition, he was influenced of the newly debuted Fauves, yet another growing artistic movement headed by Henri Matisse whereby non-naturalistic colors were used to evoke emotional response.

Luce created an oeuvre of astounding diversity that reflects this period of stylistic variety. He died in Paris in 1941.

Museum Collections include:
Museum D'Orsay, Paris; National Gallery, Oslo; Museum of the Annunciation, Saint-Tropez; Kroller-Muller National Museum, Netherlands; Goteburg Art Gallery, Goteburg, Sweden; Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN; Petit Palais, Geneva; National Museum of Modern Art, Paris


Biography from LewAllen Galleries:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Paris in 1858, Maximilien Luce began his career as a commercial engraver in the employ of Eugene Froment.  His style has been simultaneously ascribed to the schools of Post Impressionism, Pointillism, and Social Realism.  Like many artists, he experimented with several of the modern painting techniques and schools developing in France throughout his career.  He favored depictions of everyday life of the working class as well as landscapes and seascapes.  Luce is noted for his ability to depict scenes of urban life without deteriorating into anecdotes; everyday people are treated with humor and tenderness, dignity and nobility.

Along with fellow artists Paul Signac, Camille Pissarro, and Georges Seurat, Luce founded l’Ecole des Neo-Impressionists.  They exhibited together in 1887 at the third Salon des Independants.  Neo-Impressionism or Pointillism sought to improve upon the Impressionist style through the use of a scientific technique.

In 1894, following his military service, Luce became active in the Parisian anarchist movement.  He was imprisoned that same year along with other members of the press for the publication of riot inciting art.  Luce was eventually acquitted in what became known as the Trial of the Thirty.  Luce’s penchant for social liberalism also led him to resign his post as President of the Societe des Artistes Independants, to which he was elected in 1934, in protest to the racial laws enacted by the Vichy regime barring Jewish artists from official gatherings.

His work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum, NY; the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the Minneapolis Institute of Art, MN; the Phoenix Art Museum, AZ; as well as many international institutions.

Biography from Odon Wagner Gallery:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

French painter and printmaker, Maximilien Luce was born and raised in Paris in the working-class surroundings of Montparnasse, and an interest in the daily routines and labours of the petit peuple of Paris informs much of his art.

In 1876 after an apprenticeship with the wood-engraver Henri Théophile Hildebrand (b 1824), he entered the studio of the wood-engraver Eugène Froment where he assisted in the production of engravings for various French and foreign publications such as L’Illustration and The Graphic.  He also sporadically attended classes at the Académie Suisse and in the studio of Carolus-Duran.

In Froment’s studio he came into contact with the artists Léo Gausson and Emile-Gustave Péduzzi (Cavallo-Péduzzi; 1851–1917) and in their company began painting landscape subjects in and around the town of Lagny-sur-Marne.

Biography from Artworld International:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in France, Maximilien Luce painted Genre, landscapes, portraits, nudes, Holland, gardens and city views.  This painter painted in the neo-impressionistic style and was a friend of Pissaso.

- Benezit Dictionary of Artist, submitted by Karen Ledbetter.

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