Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Paul Maze ( 1887 - 1979 )

One of the great artists of his generation, he was often called the last of the impressionists. He was born into an artistic circle in Le Havre in 1887 where family friends included Renior, Monet, Dufy and Pissaro, from whom the young Maze learned the rudiments of painting. His father, a tea merchant, sent him to school in Southampton and there he started his love affair with things English. It was when he saw the Scots Greys at Le Havre in 1914 that he signed up straight away as an interpreter but his pencil and paper was never far from his bayonet. This lead to him meeting with the young Winston Churchill, and the establishment of a life long friendship during which he was to be Winston's artistic mentor. Winston wrote of him from Chartwell shortly, before the second war, "He is an artist of distinction whose keen eye and nimble pencil record impression with the revealing fidelity". As a British private said, "Your pictures are done in shorthand". It was this immediacy which gave him the facility to record the events of his life, wherever and whatever they were. Whilst in Paris he became firm friends with both Segonzac and Vuillard. It was a meeting with Vuillard in 1932 which was pivotal in his development as a painter. He suggested the use of pastels would record the freshness so evident in his work. He took Maze to his own pastel merchant, Dr Roche, who had found a new formula for chalks and had achieved a colour selection of 1,600 shades. Maze later described this visit as being 'taken by God to meet God'.

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