A painter, lithographer and draftsman, Maximilien Luce was born on March 13th, 1858 to working class parents in the Montparnasse section of Paris. As a youth, he apprenticed to the wood engravers Henri Théophile Hildebrand and Eugène Froment.
In Paris, Luce continued with his career as an engraver and enrolled in the Academy des Beaux-Arts to study painting. Luce next entered the studio of Carolus-Duran, a decision which not only gave him meticulous training as a draftsman, but which also introduced him to many of the leading painters of the day. Luce then perfected his drawing skills at the Ecole de Dessin des Gobelins. In 1887, Luce joined the Société des Indépendants, after which time he consistently participated in the avant-garde group’s exhibitions for the remainder of his life.
By far the most influential of Luce's mentors at this time was Camille Pissarro, with whom Luce became very good friends and who gave Luce much invaluable artistic advice. The versatile Luce, like many of his contemporaries at the time, such as Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, experimented throughout his career with several of the modern painting techniques and schools developing in France. Luce was one of the founders of the Neo-Impressionist School, which applied scientific optical principles of light and color to create strictly formalized compositions in contrast to the adherents of Impressionism, who had spontaneously recorded nature in terms of the effects of color and light.
During his lifetime, Luce created paintings in the Pointillist style. His ability to draw figures so expertly differentiated him from many of his fellow Neo-Impressionists. While Luce remained for a period of time a strict Pointillist, after 1920, when he began spending a large amount of time around Rolleboise, Luce started to paint in a freer manner. It was without doubt that this Post-Impressionist technique which he used in these later works showed his art to its best effect.
Maximilien Luce died on February 6th, 1941 in Paris, the city where he was born. He left a sizable number of works in various mediums (4,000 paintings and nearly 3,000 drawings, lithographs, etchings and wood engravings), as he was an indefatigable artist. Maximilien Luce is remembered best as a French Post-Impressionist painter, although he is also known as a Pointillist and a Social Realist.
Société des Indépendants, 1887
Galerie du Neo-Impressionisme
L’art Impressioniste (sponsored by La Libre Esthétique)
Galerie des Beaux Arts
Société des Artistes Indépendants
Les Vingts (Brussels)
Galerie Bernheim, February 1929
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National Gallery, Oslo
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
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Palazzo Ruspoli, Rome
Petit Palais, Geneva
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Portland Museum of Art, Maine
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