Albert-Simon Bussy 

Albert-Simon Bussy 

Biography of Albert-Simon Bussy  ( 1870-1954 )

Born into a middle-class family in Dole and gifted in the fine arts, the young Albert-Simon Bussy first took lessons at the local drawing school, then, thanks to a scholarship, entered the École nationale des arts décoratifs in Paris in 1886. 

In Paris, he became friend with many artists: Georges Rouault, Paul Audra, Eugène Martel, Henri Evenepoel, Dominique Bianchi and Henri Matisse and entered the Beaux-Arts. There, under the guidance of his teacher Gustave Moreau, he made copies of works by Holbein, Rubens, Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci, some of which were bought by the French state.  Albert-Simon Bussy also attended the Académie Julian, where he participated in the formation of the Nabi group with Paul Sérusier, but did not later collaborate in this movement. 

However, the young artist wanted to escape from Paris and the atmosphere of the studios. In 1896, he undertook a trip to the French, Swiss, German and Austrian Alps and brought back a series of pastel landscapes presented the following year at Durand-Ruel's. 1897 was thus a year of great success: Simon-Albert Bussy also exhibited at the Salon de la Société nationale des beaux-arts, and at the fourth annual Salon La Libre Esthétique in Brussels.

The year 1898 marked a break for the man who would henceforth sign his works "Simon Bussy". He entered the Carmen Academy, which had just been founded by the painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, thanks to the friendship that bound him to Auguste Bréal and his family.
In the fall of 1901, he moved to London and began to exhibit at the Carfax Gallery where he worked with Sargent. To survive, Bussy opened a class in his studio reserved for women where he found some of his acquaintances met in Paris, including Dorothy Strachey. After a burn on his face and hands, following the explosion of a lamp in his studio, Bussy is housed and treated at the Strachey's. There, Dorothy soon announced her engagement to "Little Bussy" as he was affectionately called. The arrival of the artist in this old Scottish family is a bombshell, but the open-mindedness of Lady Strachey allows the marriage. The wedding trip took them to Dole and then to Beaulieu. During a walk, they found their future home: La Souco near Roquebrune, which they bought in August 1903 and moved into in the spring of 1904.

Simon Bussy exhibited at the Salon d'Automne from 1905 to 1913, as well as at Durand Ruel in Paris and in London at the Carfax Gallery, Leighton House and the Goupil Gallery. The artist continued to paint subtle portraits, views of his garden, his house and the surrounding countryside.
After the Great War, Bussy directed his work towards the realization of animal pastels, treated with great attention to detail and simplification of forms that will make his reputation. He exhibited his work in London and Paris, notably at the Galerie Charpentier.

Over the years, La Souco became a real link between the writers of the Bloomsbury Group and the Nouvelle Revue Française. André Gide, who became an intimate of the couple, allowed them to meet Roger Martin du Gard and Paul Valéry, of whom Bussy would deliver magnificent portraits.
Life in Roquebrune was punctuated by travels that allowed the painter to bring back studies of landscapes or animals to feed his work in the studio. In 1922, the town of Roquebrune commissioned Bussy to built a monument to the dead, and for the occasion he created a small Greek temple with a mosaic at the bottom. The sober and harmonious whole will be greeted by the critic.

In 1925, Bussy exhibited at Druet a set of forty paintings and sixty-two pastels under the title "Simon Bussy, birds and animals". This exhibition reinforced the painter's attraction to animals, and in 1927, Bussy created a bestiary with large areas of color that accompanies the prose poems of Francis de Miomandre.
Bussy's production remains on the fringe of the major artistic currents of the first half of the twentieth century and is sometimes criticized. In his own words, his "animals have nothing fanciful; they are real portraits where I want the resemblance to emerge from the accidental with ever greater clarity, precision, purity."

Already elderly, the Bussy family left Roqueburne and moved to an apartment in Nice in 1937. The war affected them terribly and it was thanks to the support of Gide and Martin du Gard that Bussy was able to exhibit again at the Galerie Charpentier in 1948. He did not achieve the success he had hoped for, but nevertheless continued to exhibit at the Leicester Gallery in 1949 with Birds, Fish, Flowers and Animals and in 1953 with Pastel Landscapes.
In his preface to the 1948 exhibition, André Gide wrote that Bussy spent most of his time at the London zoo, the park or the aquarium in Vincennes, seeking the likeness of animals rather than that of men. His wonderful bestiary testifies to this today.

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