Galerie des Modernes

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Maximilien Luce

Impressionnism, Pointillism, "Groupe des Vingt"

  • La Verrerie

Maximilien Luce

(Paris, 1858 - Paris, 1941)

La Verrerie, circa 1897-1899

Oil on its original canvas
Signed lower left Luce
Stamp on the back on the frame "Collection Jean Bouin-Luce"
32 x 40 cm

Provenance :
Former Jean Bouin-Luce collection, have right and co-author of the catalogue raisonné Luce

Literature :
Maximilien Luce, Catalogue de l’œuvre peint,, Volume II, by Jean Bouin-Luce and Denise Bazetoux, Editions JLB, Paris, 1986, described and reproduced at p. 262 under the nr. 1053


In 1895, during a stay in Brussels with the Belgian poet Émile Verhaeren (1855-1916), Maximilien Luce went to Belgium, Charleroi with his friend, the Belgian neo-impressionist painter Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) and discovered the Borinage, the Black country, in full industrial expansion. Luce was fascinated by these landscapes of factories, heaps, chimneys and blast furnaces. "This country frightens me. It is so terrible and beautiful that I doubt to return what I see ", he wrote to the painter Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910).

Maximilien LUCE - Acierie à Charleroi, 1897 - Musée d'Orsay, Paris

A former engraver, Luce was deeply influenced by the workers at work. A committed artist, he was very sensitive to the working-class condition through his painting. His repeated trips to Charleroi and the region in 1896, 1897 and 1899 allowed Luce to paint a small series of works on this iron world that fascinated him.


Maximilien LUCE, L'Acierie, 1895 - Musée du Palais, Genève

Maximilien LUCE, La Fonderie, 1899 - Kröller-Muller Museum, Otterlo

Our painting La Verrerie, executed in Charleroi circa 1897-1899, depicts the astonishing spectacle of a glass workshop where glassmakers bustle around the ovens. This work was mistakenly titled La Fonderie in the artist's catalogue raisonné published in 1986 but the glass ball at the end of a cane, visible at the bottom left of the composition, leaves no doubt as to the activity depicted here. Fire and molten glass offer night lighting effects and contrasts of light and shadow. At the heart of this dark universe, Luce's palette is set ablaze. He uses blazing purples, mauves, blues, greens, pinks and yellows. Until then, close to his pointillist friends, Seurat, Signac and Pissarro, Luce now uses a larger and more fluid painting technique. The composition exudes a robust power. Luce having studied laborers at work for a long time, easily translates this feeling of effort and relentless rhythm in the furnace.

In 1897, at the Salon des Independants, Paris, Luce showed his first works on Charleroi.

In November 1899 at the Durand-Ruel Gallery in Paris was held the first personal exhibition of Maximilien Luce. On this occasion was presented almost all of his paintings of Charleroi, more than thirty paintings. Criticism was unanimous in praise and allowed the artist to achieve notoriety.

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