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Seaton Bay, Devon

Paul Lucien Maze

French ( b.1887 - d.1979 )

Seaton Bay, Devon

  • Watercolour
  • Signed lower right

Image size 9.1 inches x 12.8 inches ( 23cm x 32.5cm )
Frame size 15 inches x 18.5 inches ( 38cm x 47cm )

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Paul Lucien Maze was one of the outstanding artists of his generation.

He was born in France in 1887, to Anglo-French parents and spent his early years in the artistic circle in Le Harve, where his father was friends with artists such as Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Braque, Claude Monet, Roal Dufy and Camille Pissarro. He spent his childhood by the sea, watching Pissarro paint and learning to sketch with Dufy. He was educated from the age of 12 in England.

He served in both the British and French armies during the First World War and saw action on the Western Front, recording his experiences in “A Frenchman in Khaki”, published in 1934. He served again in the British army during the Second World War, including as personal staff officer to Sir Arthur Travers “Bomber” Harris. He was highly decorated by both the British and French military. He met Winston Churchill in the trenches and they became lifelong friends, with Maze teaching Churchill how to sketch and paint and remaining his artistic mentor.

After the First World War Maze lived in Paris and worked and exhibited with artists such as Matisse, Bonnard, Utrillo and Vuillard. Vuillard encouraged him to work with pastels, a medium in which he went on to produce some of his very best works. He put on solo exhibitions in 1925 and 1930 and thereafter exhibited regularly at major commercial art galleries in London, Paris and America.

He was naturalized as a British subject in 1920. It has been said that England took its revenge for losing the English Impressionist Alfred Sisley to France by adopting Paul Maze. He was the Official Painter of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation. A major retrospective “Paul Maze and the Guards” was shown at Wildensteins in 1973 and his fascinating life is reviewed in Anne Singer’s biography”Paul Maze - the Lost Impressionist”.

In his foreword to the catalogue of Maze's first New York exhibition in 1939, Winston Churchill wrote, "His great knowledge of painting and draughtsmanship have enabled him to perfect his remarkable gift. With the fewest of strokes he can create an impression at once true and beautiful. Here is no toiling seeker after preconceived effects, but a vivid and powerful interpreter to us of the forces and harmony of Nature".

He died at the age of 92 in 1979 with a pastel in his hands looking out onto the Sussex downs. His work can be seen in many major galleries including The Tate, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, and in private collections worldwide, including that of HM The Late Queen Mother.