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Edgard Maxence 

The Soul of the spring

31.50 x 39.37 inch

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Edgard Maxence 
1871-1954

The Soul of the spring
Tempera heightened with gold on panel  signed and dated 1899 lower right  
31.50 x 39.37 inch
Salon des Artistes Français, 1899, n°1367
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Artist biography >

Biography of Edgard Maxence 

Edgard Maxence was born in Nantes in 1871 in a family of landowners. Nothing predestined him to become an artist. But his mother, Estelle Boquien, with the cultural environment of Nantes helped him to choose an artistic career. During his schooling at the "Externat des Enfants Nantais", he followed the drawing lessons of Abbot Sotta (the first master of Elie Delaunay) who certainly was at the beginning of his artistic vocation.

In 1891, Maxence was a successful candidate at the School of Fine Arts in Paris. He first went to Elie Delaunay’s studio, and after to Gustave Moreau’s. The meeting between Maxence and Moreau was absolutely decisive for the young artist who stayed in his master’s studio until 1896, and remained faithful to his teaching all along his life.

Maxence’s studies at the Fine Arts School were brilliant: in 1893 he obtained the prize of "Premier Logiste" and won the first prize for expression faces in 1894. Despite these prizes, he was eliminated from the first round of the 1895’s Prix de Rome. This failure certainly determined his future artistic way.

When he was a young painter, Maxence distinguished himself by his taste for portraits. Since 1893, he regularly exibited at the Salon of French Artists and took part at the Salon of Rose-Croix between 1895 and 1897. His paintings were very attached with the Symbolist movement to whom he took his subjects. He was inspired by the Breton legends, ambiguous and dark subjects, dreamy processions. He was simultaneously fed by his Christian traditions and his Celtic influences.

His palette was varied : he used garnet-colored, emerald green, muffled yellow. He also used very varied mediums, either oil, either wax, from time to time both together. The tempera, piece of gold, gouache and charcoal gave a singular appearance to his art works and accentuated the primitive appearance of his mystic scenes, despite of the realistic treatment of the faces.

In 1900, he was awarded with a gold medal at the Word Fair and gained the Legion of honour. After the WWI, he decided to turn towards more lucrative subjects. Then he continued a brilliant career of social portraits painter, creating some still lifes and landscape paintings too.

Chevalier of the Legion of honour, he was promoted Officer in 1927 ; he was elected at the Institut in 1924 in lieu of the painter Fernand Cormon.

« The Soul of the Spring » perfectly illustrates the main features of Maxence’s art. With an outstandingly symbolic subject, the painting shows the usual bright colors of the painter. The celtic influence emphasizes the mysticism of this work

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