PAINTING OF THE MONTH – Summer Exhibition
Jean Souverbie 1891 – 1981
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It was a meeting with Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier in 1908 that influenced the young Souverbie to take up an artistic career. Led by these two members of the Nabis group, Souverbie enrolled at the Académie Ranson in 1916, where he befriended Bonnard, Vuillard and Vallotton.
Cubist tendencies were apparent in his work of the 1920s as a result of his contact with the work of Braque. However, his sensuousness allowed him to combine the cubist vocabulary with a more traditional naturalism in order to create his voluptuous, classical nudes. His monumental figures, his taste for allegorical subject matter and simplicity of composition reveal his interest in the great French classical painter, Poussin.
Souverbie’s classicism does not only relate to seventeenth century tradition but equally to the laws of perfect beauty posed by the Greeks, and featured in the classical beauty of his young wife. It is her that is the model for the female figures in many of his paintings. His style lent itself to monumental painting and when he became head teacher at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1945, an atelier of mural painting was created for him.
In 1925 Souverbie was under contract with the Galerie Vavin-Raspail, which hosted the Section d’Or exhibition that year, bringing him into contact with Lhote, Gleizes, Picasso, Marcoussis and many other members of the Paris avant-garde. After a first one-man-show at Vavin-Raspail in 1926 Souverbie went on to have a show of fifty-four cubist paintings at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in 1929, which established him as an important figure on the Paris inter war art scene.
City Art Gallery, Leeds
Musée de Grenoble
Musée du Petit Palais, Paris
Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris
Museum of Art, Philadelphia
Museum of Modern Art, Boston