Paul Delamain

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Biography of Paul Delamain ( 1821-1882 )

After the disappearance of Paul Delamain, the Illustration dedicates him an article in which we can read: « Nobody has painted the Arab and the horse like him, even Eugène Fromentin, who he seemed to imitate, but he had preceded, in reality. This Paul Delamain, [], was a big boy, thin, elegant, with the vague appearance of military Don Quixote. [] Who would believe that Paul Delamain, whose smooth paintings, gleaming croups of the Arab horses, the plains of red sand were so finely painted, was in a way the first one of the impressionists? Nevertheless, it is the truth ».    

Indeed, in his Parisian studio of Racine street, the apprentice painter takes bladders of color, crushes them on the painting and spreads them with his thumb. Sometimes, the result is pleasant, bizarre, unusual, sometimes it is disappointing, horrible. He also experiments the painting with knife. One day, his friend Auguste Marc asserts him that the nature and the fate cannot decide on everything, and convinces him to take professor. Delamain enters the studio of Drolling, where he learns drawing and composition. He will also have Leblanc as professor. Thanks to his teachers, he first exposes at the Salon of French Artists in 1846. Then he exposes regularly there between 1861 and 1881, mainly scenes of Algerian riders.

Very appealed to the Maghreb, the painter made a commitment in the Spahis, the unit of cavalry in the service of Algeria. He collects during his journeys numerous of studies which will be used later for compositions in his studio. After returning to the civil life, he will stay very regularly in North Africa after 1861, living most of the time among the nomads of the Algerian desert.

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