Maximilien Luce


Maximilien Luce Biography

1858 - 1974


Maximilien Luce's painting subjects are composed of the daily routines and labors of the simple people of Paris. This subject matter was chosen because he was born in Montparnasse and grew up in a working class environment. At an early age, he apprenticed with the wood-engraver Henri Theophile Hildebrand (b. 1824). He then entered the studio of the wood- engraver Eugene Froment where he assisted in the production of engravings for various French and foreign publication such as The Graphic.

During this time in his life, he sporadically attended classes at the Academie Suisse and in the studio of Carolus-Duran. While working for Froment he met Leo Gausson (1860 - 1944) and Emile-Gustave Peduzzi (Cavallo-Peduzzi; 1851 - 1917) and in their company began painting landscape subjects in and around the town of Lagny-sur-Marne. Luce began to exhibit at the Salon des Artistes Independents, in Paris, in 1887. At this show, Luce's painting caught the attention of Camille Pissarro, the critic Felix Feneon and Paul Signac, who purchased his painting.

Henceforth Luce exhibited annually with the Neo-Impressionists at the Independents, and in 1889 and 1892, by invitation, at the Salon des Vingt in Brussels. Luce was well traveled and in the 1890's, with Camille Pissarro, went to London and Saint-Tropez with Signac; to Camaret in Brittany in 1893; and to the Borinage, the coal-mining district of Belgium. He also painted stretches of the Seine west of Paris, in which he displayed his use of stippled brushwork and high color harmonies for which he became known for.

Unlike most Neo-Impressionists, Luce continued to favor urban subjects throughout his career, depicting the animated bustle of streets in the Latin Quarter, construction workers on the boulevards and sweeping views from the rooftops and chimneys of Montmartre. Luce's depiction of genre scenes came from his dislike of the government. As a child of 13, he witnessed the Commune and its harsh suppression in the aftermath of the collapse of the Second Empire, an event that he commemorated years late in Paris Street in May 1871. 

Maximilien Luce was a master painter of figuratives, portraits, landscapes, animated scenes, and urban landscapes. He was highly accomplished as a water-colorist, artist of pastels, an engraver, lithographer, and an illustrator. Luce's works have become valued treasures of today.

Museums: Petit Palais, Geneve, Switzerland; Museum d'Orsay, Paris, France; Museum de L'Annonciade, Saint-Tropez, France; National Museum of Art Modern, Paris, France; Museum Kroller-Muller, Otterlo; and many other fine art museums.

Bibliography: E. Benezit Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs and Maximilien Luce - Catalogue raissone de L'Oeuvre Peint published in 1986; and other important art books.