Item #4745 South Sea Study I. Léon Carré.
Léon Carré

South Sea Study I

25 x 21.7 cm
Signed with initials
Provenance: Jon Lesnikov, London

Léon Carré (1878-1942)
(Algeria painters Marion Vidal-Bué EDIF 2000)
Normand of origin, Léon Carré was born in Granville on June 23, 1878; his childhood was spent in front of the sea. He inhaled, with the sea air, the torment of adventure and, often misled in the harsh environment of the sailors, he sketched heads, hands gnarled fishermen.

"In Rennes, the excellent master, who was also that of Mathurin Méheut, knew how to discipline and refine his natural gifts, and by an intelligent teaching, he prepared him for the Ecole des Beaux-Arts."

Léon Carré left Brittany at the age of nineteen, with a good job as a decorator, loving animals and plants. Received first at his second Fine Arts competition, medalist in 1899, he followed the lessons of Bonnat and the advice of Luc-Olivier Merson in Paris, but he never wanted to compete for the Prix de Rome.

The Chenavard competition, for example, of which he was twice laureate (2nd prize); instead of choosing, according to tradition, a classic theme, he asserted his mastery and independence in the modern and realistic scenes "The Coastal" (1903) and "The Arab Market" (1905). In the meantime, he became a National Partner and had made his first trip to Algeria. This is the most troubled time of his life. Broken of ban with the official academism, Carré looks for itself in the anxiety.

His great desire to make contact with life, to grasp the revealing detail, the expressive gesture will make him leave the school.

He prefers to live and work as he pleases; he has, who protects him, the disdain of the easy success of premature vogue. In full "Fauvism", and "Cubism", it will not belong to any coterie. He prefers to mingle with the crowd and gives himself entirely to nature and life.

He is interested in the thousand spectacles of Parisian life and of the street, where his sympathy for the humble brings him to the markets of the suburbs, the popular singers, the stations of cabs and the squares full of children, and also restaurants in the fashion in which he observes with a sharp irony and a critical sense singularly warned the world of the revelers and their companions.

Above all, it is the animals that attract Léon Carré, he spends hours at the Jardin des Plantes, in front of an eagle or a heron, waiting to fix the return of the movement of the same look. It is a wonderful animal and the Society for the protection of animals chooses its poster project, after the international competition of 1904. So, begin annual trips in, Algeria. Léon Carré reports from Algeria, in 1905, a series of sketches which are bought by him for the Luxembourg museum.

He studies the races that jostle on the Mediterranean coast, he tries to unravel their dominant characters. His vision is stripped of all preconceived ideas and all literature. The book he likes is the notes of Isabelle Eberhardt, this adventurer who was a writer without wanting, pages full of firmness and color where the author never intervenes, but fades before the presence torrid and bright of Islam.

One sees all the wealth of this orientalist, as varied as the races themselves. Léon Carré's painting is not fixed in a rigid and golden splendor, in a uniformly dazzling tone, it has its alternatives of light and shade, its fiery colors and its flat, neutral colors, all the clarity and all the grisaille, all the sun and all the dust of the Orient. It resembles those Smyrna carpets where ranges keep their values ​​and blend into a harmonious and warm geometry.

In 1909, after the help of the Orientalists, Léon Carré was named, as well as his friend Jules Mignonney, a boarder at Villa Abdel-Tif, opened two years earlier to metropolitan artists by Governor Jonnart. And from then on, they are two years of happy, calming studies, in the setting of this bay of Algiers of which he knew how to express the softness and the luminosity.

An extended stay in Spain (1911) introduced him to bullfighting. He saw the existence of the bullfighters, connected with the Gallo spada and won aficionado as well as an artist's success. His "Corrida de toros" draws Zuloaga's attention and remains one of his most solid and moving paintings.

During this period of Abd-el-Tif, Leon Carré accumulates the drawings. "The Gitanes of Granada", "The Jews of Morocco", "The courtesans of Biskra" "The Arab in prayer" and "The Woman with the Tambourine", eyes long and painted, neighbor in his albums.

From then on, Léon Carré will find Algeria with other eyes. By a refined and calm art, he will choose in the shows of the real. Algiers and the hilly Sahel, laughing at its white Moorish villas, its cypresses in egrets, its verdant ravines fill it as it will fill them with a precious and poetic iconography. In 1921, with the painters Louis-Ferdinand Antoni and Frédéric-Marius de Buzon, he decorates the new rooms of the Summer Palace, draws tourist posters, models of postage stamps for the Bank of Algeria. In 1927, he contributed to the decoration of the liner "Ile-de-France".

Assiduous in the salons of Algerian and Orientalist artists, the exhibitions of French Africa, one can count on the fingers of one hand the personal exhibitions made of Algiers by Leon Carré. He liked to show only a few canvases and drawings of which he was fully satisfied and often shared the walls with Mrs. Ketty Carré, another talented painter. His paintings were gradually removed by amateurs, collectors, MM. Frédéric Lung and Louis Meley.

Museums today are jealously guarding theirs. The work of Leon Carre, painted in a total indifference to the artistic modes of this first half of the century, will remain by its aspect of truth, this stripping which brought him to release the deep poetry of beings, things and nature. His creative serenity illustrated this French Algeria's enchantment, which can claim it in his essential work. The love she had inspired him was translated into respect for this great artist who before speaking had wanted to know everything about his job.

On the morning of December 2, 1942, Léon Carré died in Algiers in this studio on rue Dumont-d'Urville, where he had lived since the war and whose paintings hung on the walls, alternating with the precious illuminations of Mrs. Ketty Carré, were the richest, the most seductive and the most intimate of art galleries.

Léon Carré was knighted the Legion of Honor in 1936.
Refer Algerianist of 34 June 1986

Item #4745

Price: $1,300.00

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