Monday 31 January 2022

Jean-Julien Lemordant

 I came across this striking photograph on Facebook earlier today. It shows the Breton painter Jean-Julien Lemordant, who was severely wounded and blinded at the battle of Arras in 1915. Left for dead, he was taken to Germany as a prisoner, and eventually returned to France in an exchange. His career as a painter, which began with great promise, was now over, but he became an inspirational speaker, extolling the role of the great French artists in keeping the spirit of art and sacrifice alive in France. After the war, he went on to be garlanded with honours in France, and retrospective exhibitions of his work were held in America. Appointed Professor of Aesthetics for life at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, he later designed and built a hotel in Paris (he had studied architecture before switching to art). His living quarters there included a huge, naturally lit studio, which, for obvious reasons, he never used. 
  Fifty years after he became blind, a series of operations restored his sight. However, the following year, during the événements of May 1968 in Paris, he was killed by tear gas. A terrible and incongruous end for a remarkable man. 
  His pictures are mostly of Breton scenes, and show the influence of the Fauves and the Pont-Aven painters. Their free brushwork and juicy colours are attractive, and they certainly rise far above the level of picturesque genre scenes. My efforts to download (?upload) a few examples having failed, I can only direct you to Wikipedia and other image sites, where plenty are to be found.
  Here is one image that I was able to download – the soldier-artist at peace with his dog...

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