Maxime Emile Maufra

French, 1861-1918 Biography

Maxime Maufra was born in Nantes, France in 1861. With the encouragement of two local painters Alfred LeDuc and Charles LeRoux Maufra began to paint at the age of eighteen. He already had developed a considerable talent for both drawing and sketching when he entered the local lycée in Nantes. In 1881 Maufra was sent by his parents to Liverpool, England to learn English and to improve his business skills. During his stay Maufra was exposed to the bright and luminous paintings of the English landscape painter J.M.W. Turner. The experience of these dazzling pictures influenced Maufra to turn away from the traditional mode of landscape painting and to move more towards the plein air painting of the Impressionists. When Maufra returned to France in 1883, he devoted himself to painting from nature along the banks of the Loire River. In 1886 the Impressionist painter John Flornoy organized a ground-breaking exhibition of avant-garde pictures which numbered nearly two thousand and which included the works of Maufra, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissaro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The same year Maufra had his debut among the French artists at the Paris Salon. Two of his oil paintings executed in 1885 by Maufra were favorably reviewed in the journal La France by Octave Mirbeau, who recognized Maufra’s unique style of painting. In November of 1893 Paul Gauguin visited Maufra in Pont Aven and encouraged him to continue to paint in accordance with his own personal interpretation of Synthetism. Synthetism differed from the earlier Impressionism because it emphasized two dimensional flat patterns. This meeting with Gauguin marked the beginning of a six year period during which time Maufra combined the technical and constructive aspects of Synthetism with a subject matter that was purely Impressionistic. In 1894 Maufra had his first solo exhibition at Le Barc de Boutteville in Paris, which was extremely successful. Beginning in 1896 the composition of Maufra’s landscapes became more detailed, accurate and truer to nature. Maufra ultimately sought to portray not the instant or the impression of a single moment or effect but rather a condensation and accumulation of all that combined to produce the effect. Such an approach differentiated Maufra from many of his contemporaries. His concern was for one image rather than a series of impressions. Maxime Maufra was singularly admired for his fierce independence and for the uniqueness of his painting style.