1861 – May 17 – Birth of Maxime-Emile-Louis Maufra in Nantes. His father, Emile Maufra runs the metallurgy factory: Constructions mécaniques, ateliers Libaudière frères et Maufra, and thinks that, quite naturally, his son will take over.
Makes brilliant secondary studies at the Lycée de Nantes and is even presented at the Concours Général.
1881 – Completes his military service. It is around this time that he meets two artists from the Lehmann studio, the Charles brothers and Alfred Leduc. Charles is known in Nantes for his marine paintings, while Alfred turns to religious painting. Maufra begins painting following their advice and he is so passionate about it that his father sends him to do an internship with a merchant in Liverpool, hoping to interest him in business and thus prepare for his future commercial career.
1882-1883 – Takes advantage of his stay in Liverpool to visit and paint Wales and especially Scotland, whose landscapes greatly impress him. On his way back to France, he stays in London and feels an immense admiration when discovering Turner.
1884-1890 – Meets the painter Charles Le Roux, follower of the 1830 School or Barbizon School and friend of the Maufra family, and the sculptor, Charles Le Bourg, pupil of Rude, who advise him and encourage him in his artistic vocation. His friend, John Flornoy, also a painter, is a fervent admirer of the Impressionists.
Dividing his life between his commercial career and painting, he does not move much and only makes a short stay in Vendée and Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie. He paints the surroundings of Nantes and his works are full of gentleness and serenity.
1886 – John Flornoy organizes a very important exhibition presenting no less than 1799 works. This is an opportunity to show artists in Nantes with very varied trends, because very classic painters like Gleyre and landscapers like Lépine can be seen there. But there are also impressionist painters like Pissarro, Sisley or Renoir and even more innovative artists like Gauguin, Seurat and Signac.
Maufra himself exhibits three paintings: la Govelle, côte de Batz, matin d’Août ; la Dame du Pouliguen and Etier de Boussaye, lac de Grandlieu en Juillet.
That same year, Maufra has two paintings accepted at the Salon : Inondation à la Haute-Ile, près Nantes, effet d’hiver and Bateaux de pêche à la Haute-Ile, près Nantes, Juillet. He is very successful since the French State buys Bateaux de pêche (now at the Musée de Cholet) and Octave Mirbeau, a very influential critic, discovers him and devotes to him a very laudatory article in tne newspaper la France.
1887-1888 – Exhibits a painting at the Salon of 1887 : Marée montante, côte de Batz, Loire-Inférieure, as well as that of 1888 : la Loire à Nantes, Juillet.
1889 – This year is very important for Maufra, as he gives up trading for good to devote himself entirely to painting.
He participates in several exhibitions. First at the Salon with : Au soleil, bateau chargé de foin montant la Loire avec le flot, fin Août, as well as at the 3rd exhibition of the Peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes at Le Barc de Boutteville.
1890 – In July, Maufra moves to Pont-Aven at the Gloanec hostel. He celebrates July 14th with Gauguin and Sérusier, met at that time, but who will have no real influence on him. He paints the port of Pont-Aven, the mills on the river and the thatched cottages.
Takes part in several exhibitions : first at the Salon, where two of his paintings are accepted : Fin d’après-midi d’automne, à la Haute-Ile, près Nantes and Brume du soir à Nort-House, hiver, as well as at the Salon des Indépendants. He also participates in the 4th exhibition of the Peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes at Le Barc de Boutteville and in the exhibition of the Société des Amis des Arts de Nantes at the Préaubert gallery.
1891 – He is still in Pont-Aven and sends in May a painting : Lune et soleil to the brand new Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, founded in 1890. He also exhibits at the Salon des Artistes Indépendants and again at Le Barc de Boutteville, at the 5th exhibition of the Peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes. He leaves Pont-Aven and moves to Le Pouldu at the end of the year, in Marie Henry’s inn where he finds Verkade and Filiger.
1892 – End of his stay in Le Pouldu. He then settles in Paris in Montmartre, in a dilapideted building, 13 rue Ravignan, which will become famous under the name of Bateau-Lavoir. He is the first artist to live there and he will be followed by many others, among them Picasso. While remaining in contact with Loiseau and Moret, it is there that he welcomes his friends from Nantes, the deputy Felix Gaborit, the lawyer Aristide Briand and the novelist Victor-Emile Michelet who will devote a book to him in 1908. He also meets Eugène Delâtre who introduces him to engraving, a technique over which he is enthusiastic. He escapes Paris to go back to Brittany and goes to Gavres, Bréhat, Paimpol, the Bilfot headland and Plouezec.
He exhibits at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Indépendants and at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
1893 – He is still in Brittany, in Plounérin, Saint-Michel-en-Grève and Lannion. In November, Gauguin visits him in Paris and gives him a drawing depicting two heads of Breton women, dedicated as follows : A l’ami Maufra – à l’artiste d’avant-garde – aïta aramoe.
That year, he exhibits at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
1894 – From this year, Maufra becomes a tireless traveller. He is in Plougasnou, Brittany in June, then he goes to Normandy, in Cotentin, to Diélette, in August, before returning to Brittany, to Saint-Michel-en-Grève in September-October. He returns to Paris to leave in December for Bruges and towards the North Sea.
It is also during this year that he has to leave the Bateau-Lavoir, following a police raid, and he moves to 7 boulevard de Clichy, where he will remin until 1898.
The first of the solo exhibitions organized at Le Barc de Boutteville , in January-February, is devoted to Maufra, which shows twenty-five paintings and fifty drawings. He is encouraged by Pissarro, Renoir and Puvis de Chavannes. Octave Mirbeau finds that his drawings recall those of van Gogh.
He again exhibits at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. It probably is on this occasion that Paul Durand-Ruel takes him under his wing. Indeed, on March 22, the artist leaves on deposit for the first time four paintings at Durand-Ruel. Later, Paul Durand-Ruel – of whom Maufra will say : Mr. Durand-Ruel is the most perfect lover of painting that I have known. I have never found in my life a person who was more in love with it… – then, after him, his sons Joseph and Georges, will be his dealers until his death in 1918.
Apart from the Le Barc de Boutteville and the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts exhibitions, he sends an engraving to the exhibition of the newspaper la Dépêche de Toulouse and participates in the 8th exhibition of Peintres Impressionnistes et Symbolistes again at Le Barc de Boutteville.
1895 – After his return from Bruges, he attends in February the Gauguin sale which is a fiasco. In March, he is in Etretat, before travelling in Scotland from Oban to Thurso and Wick in June-July. He crosses the Channel again in September to marry in London Céline Le Floch, whom he met in Pont-Aven. Then in November he returns to Saint-Jean-du-Doigt and finishes the year in Douarnenez.
He participates in the exhibition of the Association des Bretons de Paris which takes place at the Théâtre de la Bodinière and of which he is one of the organizers.
1896 – This year, he can be seen in Brittany, first in Saint-Efflam, in May, then in Saint-Michel-en-Grève, in June. In July, he is in Versailles, at the bedside of this sister’s husband, who is in poor health. In August, he goes to Oudon on the banks of the Loire, in September, to Saint-Michel-en-Grève, before going in October to Camaret and in November, to Douarnenez.
The French State buys him two paintings : la Pointe du Raz (currently at the Musée d’Arts de Nantes) and les Falaises de Wick (destroyed) for one thousand three hundred francs.
Durand-Ruel organizes two exhibitions for him, the first in January in New York where, unfortunately, none of the 31 works on display are sold, the other, in Paris, which shows 40 paintings and 50 enhanced drawings and engravings.
He also exhibits at the Salon de la Libre Esthétique in Brussels.
1897 – Always on the move, he goes to Dieppe and Varengeville in February, to Batz near Guérande, in March and April, to Tonquédec near Lannion in July and August, to Kerhuon opposite Brest, in August. He stays in Douarnenez in September-October and in Cadol by Rosporden in November. But he also finds time to paint Paris and its surroundings.
He exhibits at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and, in May, at Durand-Ruel Paris where twenty-eight paintings can be seen.
1898 – He moves from 7 boulevard de Clichy to a few numbers further on, at 25. He makes a long stay in Douarnenez from February to the beginning of April. In the meantime, he falls ill and has to return home to Nantes in April. From July and at the beginning of August, he is in Loctudy. On August 14, he is in Ploujean near Morlaix, for the first performance of the Mystère de Saint Guénolé, for which he designed the stage-sets. This show is supported by the Union Régionaliste Bretonne or U.R.B., of which Maufra is a very active member. His paths then lead him to le Faou, in August and September, to Rosporden, in September, to Saint-Guénolé Penmarc’h, in October and to Huelgoat, in November.
He exhibits at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
1899 – This time he goes to lower Normandy, to Villerville, in Calvados, in April. Then, the rest of the year, apart from a few days spent with his parents in Nantes, in September, he will make several stays alternately in Rosporden and Morgat, where he paints three large panels : le Calme, le Vent and la Tempête for the dining-room of the Grand Hôtel de la Mer.
He exhibits at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, while Durand-Ruel send his works to exhibitions in Saint-Petersburg, Basel, Mulhouse, Pittsburgh in the United States, Berlin, Dresden and Ghent.
1900 – Birth of Emile, the only son of Maufra. A few months later, his wife loses another child. He spends, as usual, the beginning of the year in Paris and paints not only the Exposition Universelle, but also the Paris surroundings, Port-Marly, Pontoise. Then, after a stay in Yport, he spends Summer and Autumn in Beg-Meil and in Cadol near Rosporden.
André, d’Espagnat, Fréchon, Loiseau, Maufra and Moret exhibition in February at Durand-Ruel New York : of the 53 paintings shown, 17 are by Maufra.
Group exhibitions in Berlin, and in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).
1901 – He paints during the Spring in L’Isle-Adam, near Paris, then in August in Chateaulin and much of the Fall in Morgat.
Solo exhibition : at Durand-Ruel Paris in March (56 paintings).
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; in Brussels, at the Salon de la Libre Esthétique ; in Chicago ; in London ; in Syracuse (New York State).
1902 – He works around Paris, then spends nearly two months in Summer in Les Andelys, inspired by Château-Gaillard, before returning, in Autumn, to Morgat where he produces two very large panels, la Ramasseuse de pommes de terre and le Pêcheur for the new dining-room of the Grand Hôtel de la Mer. Before going back to Paris, he stops in Rosporden and Nantes.
Group exhibitions : at Durand-Ruel New York (André, d’Espagnat , Loiseau, Maufra, Moret, where of the fifty-three paintings on display, ten are by Maufra) ; at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux- Arts (l’Aube, l’Isle-Adam, le Soir, Morgat and la Plage, Morgat) ; in Mulhouse ; in Le Havre , in Prague.
1903 – He is back at Les Andelys in June and goes to Concarneau in September-October. But this year is most important for him as he discovers the Quiberon peninsula which will become his home port, first staying in Kerné in August. Later, his base will be in Kerhostin, where he rents the Clairefontaine farm, before buying it in 1910.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon d’Automne, of which he is a member of the committee ; in London ; in Budapest ; in Brussels, at the Libre Esthétique.
1904 – By going in Oisans, he discovers the Alps. The end of the Summer sees him in Les Sables-d’Olonne and then, between two short stays in Rosporden, he works in Beg-Meil.
The French State buys les Coteaux de Morgat, which will be on deposit at the Toulouse Museum.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon d’Automne ; in Saint-Louis (Missouri).
1905 – In Spring, he is in Sainte-Adresse and in Le Havre, at the request of his friend, Charles Marande, to paint the Le Havre port before its transformation. The State buys him a drawing : le Phare du Havre. Then he goes to Belle-Ile, in Sauzon. After staying in Rosporden and Paris, he stays a long time in Douarnenez from December 1905 to March 1906.
Group exhibitions : Salon d’Automne, the year of “la cage aux fauves” ; in Mulhouse ; in Boston ; in Toledo (Ohio).
1906 – Leaving Douarnenez in March, he moves, probably during Spring, from 25 boulevard de Clichy to 126 boulevard Montparnasse, an address he will keep until his death. He then goes in Summer to Saint-Jean-du-Doigt and Rosporden. And, after a stop in Nantes, he goes to Le Croisic in December.
He is nominated Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon d’Automne ; in Montreal ; in Basel ; in Le Havre and at the galerie Georges Petit in Paris.
1907 – He travels much less and divides his time between two places dear to his heart : Lavardin, on the Loir, in the Loir-et-Cher department, which he discovers that same year and where he will stay since the beginning of April until mid-June. In Summer, he goes back to Kerhostin, then Belle-Ile in September-October.
Solo exhibition : Durand-Ruel Paris in February : 35 canvases, 21 watercolours and drawings and 14 etchings.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; at the Salon d’Automne ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) ; in Le Havre ; in Périgueux ; in Krefeld (Germany) ; in Saint-Quentin ; in Buffalo (New York State) ; in Ostend ; in Remiremont ; in Manchester ; in Budapest ; in Saint-Louis (Missouri) ; in Prague ; in Barcelona ; in Stuttgart.
1908 – He works around Paris, but does not forget to join Kerhostin during Spring and Summer, from where he makes a foray into Belle-Ile. During the Fall, we see him again in Kerhostin and Rosporden.
His childhood friend, Victor-Emile Michelet, writes and publishes the first book on Maufra : Maufra peintre et graveur.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; at the Salon d’Automne ; at the University of Missouri ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) ; in New York ; in Cincinnati (Ohio) ; in Brussels ; in Minneapolis (Wisconsin) ; in Mulhouse ; in Zürich.
1909 – As usual in the beginning of the year, paints Paris and its surroundings, such as the Fontainebleau forest. He spends the rest of the year in Kerhostin and Belle-Ile.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; at the Salon d’Automne ; in Montréal ; in Philadephia ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) ; in Kassel (Germany) ; in Liège.
1910 – This is the year of the Seine large floodings in Paris and its surroungings and Maufra paints a whole sery of canvases of this motif which will be exhibited on the same year at the Devambez gallery. He also execute many posters for shows and cabarets. There are sad moments for him, since his mother passes away and he spends most of the time in Kerhostin in the Clairefontaine farm which he buys that same year. In September, he is in Belle-Ile.
Solo exhibition at Durand-Ruel Paris in November, where 32 paintings and 34 watercolours and drawings are shown.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; at the Salon d’Automne ; in New York ; in Nantes ; in Leipzig ; in Dundee (Scotland) ; in Philadelphie ; in Brussels ; in Paris, at Devambez.
1911 – He shares his time successively between Paris and Belle-Ile in February-March, Kerhostin during Spring, Vichy where he does a therapy in July, Kerhostin, Belle-Ile and Rosporden in August and September. He has to go to Nantes because of his father’s poor health who will pass in December. At the end of the year, he is in Forges des Salles, on the border of Côtes d’Armor and Morbihan.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts; at the Salon d’Automne ; in London ; in Hanover ; in Mulhouse ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) ; in Warsaw ; in Rome.
1912 – He leaves his favorite destinations during the Winter to go to the South of France, even pushing as far as Camogli, in Italy. But he comes back in Kerhostin, from where he leaves only for a therapy in Vichy in July.
Solo exhibition : at Durand-Ruel Paris, in November, which shows 35 paintings.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts ; at the Salon d’Automne ; in Nantes ; in Paris, several exhibitions, including the Triennale ; in Vienna ; in Amsterdam.
1913 – Wishing again to see new landscapes, he crosses the Mediterranean sea to go in February and March in Algeria. Afterwards, perhaps due to health problems, he stays in Kerhostin, apart from the usual therapy in Vichy in July.
Group exhibitions : at the Salon d’Automne ; in Boston ; in Zürich.
1914 – Before World War I breaks out, Maufra moves a lot : after having been in Beuzec-Conq near Concarneau, he wants to see Dinan, before settling in Kerhostin in June. In July he is in Savoie,near Brides-les-Bains, and on his return in Paris, he learns of the news of the imminent war.
Group exhibitions : in Paris (2 exhibitions) ; in Mulhouse ; in Lyons.
1915 – Due to circumstances, Durand-Ruel no longer receives any news from the artist. But he remains active and participates with other engravers in the creation of the Rendez-vous des Vernis Mous.
Group exhibition : in Detroit (Michigan).
1916 – Too old to be enlisted, Maufra still wants to be useful to France and with the poet, Charles Le Goffic, goes to the front and brings back twenty lithographs, which illustrate a book Paysages de guerre. He spends the end of the year in Paris.
Furthermore, he is officially appointed “peintre du département de la Marine” and plan for the development of what could be a Ecole des Métiers d’Art Industriel in Quimper.
Group exhibitions : in Paris, at the Triennale ; in Buffalo (New York State) ; in Philadelphia ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).
1917 – Maybe seeking a milder climate and atmosphere, Maufra returns to the banks of the Loir and stays at Lavardin in July and at Gué du Loir in November, but does not forget Kerhostin where he spends the end of the Summer.
Group exhibitions : in Paris, at the Salon d’Automne and in the Georges Petit galleries : exhibition for the benefit of the Fraternité des Artistes ; in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania).
1918 – He is still at the Gué du Loir on the beginning of the year and, after being in Kerhostin in April, leaves for Poncé in May. On May 25, he writes a letter to Durand-Ruel telling about his imminent return to Paris and, a few hours later, collapses at the foot of his easel, struck down by a heart attack, in front of an almost completed canvas : le Moulin du gué du Bray.
Bibliographical sources :
– Archives Durand-Ruel ;
– Exposition du Centenaire, Maxime Maufra. – Saint-Pierre de Quiberon : Médiathèque – Eté 2018 ;
– RAMADE (Patrick) – Maxime Maufra, un ami de Gauguin en Bretagne. – Douarnenez : le Chasse-Marée, 1988.