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Jean-Julien Massé

French Painter
(1856-1950)


Jean Julien Massé work can be considered as the ultimate and sumptuous flowering of what Maurice Ribier called " the Corot's seeds".

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Pêcheurs au bord du fleuve
Oil on canvas

He is born in Meaux on November 9, 1856. His parents hold the hardware of the Rue du Marché. As many parents, they hope for the boy the gilded future of a notary. However, the Julien's hopelessly mediocre studies force them to place him as an apprentice in a Parisian notions store. In vain, the teenager has no liking for buds and laces. The only incentive that one knows him then, is the drawing. However, drawing does not feed its man! As a last resort, Julien Massé enlists in the army for five years and leaves for Algeria.

For three years, he blackens notebooks and tries to catch the warm light with the tip of his pencils. Back in Amiens with his garrison, he takes his first lesson in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts (school of fine arts) and strengthens his talent in Boulanger's studio. Introduced to the painter Alexander Bouché, this one accepts him as a pupil.

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L'Allée Corot à Luzancy
Private Collection

The dice is cast. Massé settles down in Luzancy. From then on, he becomes the direct heir of the marvelous artistic heritage transmitted by Corot to Bouché. Showing a fierce determination, Massé is quick to collect from this inheritance the most coveted fruit for an artist: the style. The painting "L'allée Corot à Luzancy, homage to the one that refused like him to end as shopkeeper, concentrate the painter's whole talent. Massé offers the piece to another painter of the Marne valley, Fernand Pinal.

Julien Massé is a bulimic: he practices oil, pastel, watercolors, and etching and achieves a remarkable set of engravings on the old city of Meaux. At the end World War I, he executes for the Americans a series of paintings accounting the last offensive of the Marne, at the time of the deadly conquest by the GIs of the "cote 204" in Château-Thierry.

A prolonged contact with the Briard region allowed him to get to the heart of its beauty, its secret poetry.

The painter dies in 1954 at the age of 94 in Luzancy where he is buried, close to Bouché…


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