Saint Pardoux—Le pont sur la Dronne
Oil on canvas
7.4 x 10.4 in. / 18.7 x 26.5 cm
b. 1883, Venarey-Les Laumes, France
d. 1970, Paris, France
A Camille Bombois was a French naïve painter, best known for his depictions of circus life. As a young man, Bombois competed in wrestling competitions at local fairs and later joined a traveling circus as a strongman. After marrying in 1907, Bombois moved with his wife to Paris and found a night job at a newspaper printing office. Though he worked in the evenings, Bombois spent his days painting.
Bombois served in the war from 1914 to 1918 and, upon his return, found that his wife had sold some of his paintings. Encouraged, he resumed his strenuous schedule of evening labor and daytime painting and exhibited his work on the sidewalks of Montmarte. In 1922, he garnered the attention of journalist Noël Bureau, and in 1924 was discovered by the gallerist William Uhde.
Bombois was included in the important exhibitions of naïve artists, such as Les Peintres du Cœur-Sacré in 1928, the 1932 exhibition Les Primitifs Modernes and, most notably, the 1937 exhibition Maîtres Populaires de la Réalité. Bombois attained international recognition and his works were acquired by major collections and museums.
Bombois’ style is characterized by strong colors and volumetric figures, which are often dynamic and joyous. While his style has been compared to that of Henri Rousseau, Bombois’ work depicts scenes from his own lived experience, primarily of vignettes of his wife, moments from his time in the circus, or landscapes of the French countryside.