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Still Life



Pierre Dumont (1884-1936)
Still Life
oil on canvas
AGLC 438 @ A.G Leventis Gallery

P i erre Dumont was born in Paris in 1884 and lived there for many years as an adult; however, since his father was appointed as a teacher to Rouen, it was in this Normandy town that his painting apprenticeship was carried out and his career as a painter began. For this reason, Dumont is generally cited as one of the representatives of the second generation of the Rouen School of painting (a name coined by the Parisian art critic Arsène Alexandre in 1902), which, from Impressionism to Marcel Duchamp, attested to the dynamism of this provincial group. During the second half of the 19th century, Rouen was fortunate enough to count among its inhabitants major collectors of Impressionist works, including the legendary pastry cook Eugène Murer, owner of a hotel in Rouen, and the merchant François Depeaux (a part of his collection belongs to the Musée des Beaux- Arts in Rouen), as well as the Galerie Legrip, which sought out new talent and also benefitted from the proximity of the capital. All this contributed to the emergence of artists such as Charles Angrand (1854- 1926), Joseph Delattre (1858-1912) and Charles Fréchon (1856-1929), followed by a new generation of artists who met on the school benches of the Corneille Lyceum: Dumont, Robert Pinchon (1886- 1943) and Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968). Dumont also proved to be a successful organiser, creating, in 1907, the XXX group (Thirty group), which showed its sympathy for the Parisian Fauves (who also had ties to the nearby port of Le Havre), and then its successor, the Society of Contemporary Norman Painters, which was active until 1914 and was equally open to the latest Parisian trends.  

The first paintings by Dumont, who, as of 1908, regularly showed his work at the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne, feature an extensive use of impasto, reflecting his admiration for Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). After a Fauvist phase, around 1912 he was quick to align with Cubism, reuniting with Marcel Duchamp’s brother Jacques Villon (1875-1963), while organising events for the Section d’Or group. At the time, Dumont was living in Paris and had a studio in Montmartre, in the Bateau-Lavoir, a building made famous by Picasso, where he associated with Juan Gris (1887-1927) and Max Jacob (1876-1944). His first solo exhibition took place in Paris in 1914 and met with heartening success. His career resumed after World War I. This was a period during which the painter travelled frequently in France and abroad, but which came to an abrupt halt in 1931: Dumont began suffering from physical ailments and died prematurely, in 1936.  

A painter of views of Rouen, Paris and Montmartre, Dumont also produced some portraits and a large number of still lifes, solidly structured and carried out in a thick impasto, in a range of wildly contrasting colours, as shown in this Still Life in the A. G. Leventis Collection. The painter rarely dated his works, and this painting, which may or may not have been exhibited during the artist’s lifetime, was probably created before 1914.

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About the artist

A painter of views of Rouen and Paris, he was a representative of the second generation of the Rouen School of painting. In 1907 he created in Rouen the XXX group, which showed affinities to the Fauves, and its successor, the Society of Contemporary Norman Painters. He also produced some portraits and a large number of still lifes, which, like his view paintings, are solidly structured and in a thick impasto with fiery colour contrasts.

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