LUCE Maximilien
( 1858-1941) French painter and graphic artist; born and died in Paris. His main subjects were landscape and townscape (especially of industrial areas). Luce was only a minor artist, but his simple, sincere nature was satisfied with such a role, for he had an inborn disdain for honours, and his only desire was to paint. He sought neither to innovate nor to dazzle but, with the conscientiousness of an artisan, devoted his long, retired life to painting. 'It was no easy task', wrote his friend George Besson, 'to make a name at twenty at the moment when Monet was painting his Gare Saint-Lazare and Renoir his Moulin de la Galette, or to hope for notoriety at thirty with only the will to do good work to pit against Gauguin's genius for the picturesque, or at seventy, with only disdain for M. Dali's bluff.' However, Luce was not entirely indifferent to the artistic trends of his day, and he joined the group around Signac and Seurat for a few years, until finally his poetic sensibility could no longer submit to the inflexibility of their system. He was a friend of Signac and like him an exponent of NeoImpressionism, although he was less rigid in his interpretation of its doctrines. On abandoning Divisionism he came under the influence of his friend Camile Pissarro, and his work tended towards Impressionism: fixing the fugitive effects of Nature in subtle, delicate tones, he produced paintings which were both poetic and powerful.
In his youth Luce was an anarchist, and in 1894 was implicated in the celebrated 'Procès des Trente'. Acquitted at the trial, he left prison and continued all his life to paint steadily, taking part in no group activities and never abandoning his independence of mind and pride in his working-class birth. Apart from his landscapes, some of Luce's best paintings represent the humble, arduous life of the people: labourers, dockers or masons at their daily work. His art, which has its own highly individual side, has its place between that of Pissarro and Bonnard.
When Signac resigned from the presidency of the Société des Artistes Independants in 1934, Luce was elected to succeed him -- the only worldly honour he ever accepted. There is a museum of his work at Mantes-laJolie.
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