Vase de fleurs, 1915–25
b. 1858, Paris, France
d. 1941, Paris, France
Maximilien Luce was a Neo-Impressionist painter born into a Parisian family of artisans. When he was fourteen years old, Luce began apprenticing with a wood engraver, and in 1876 he began working in the studio of printmaker Eugène Froment. However, Luce also began to take drawing and painting classes at night, and by 1880 he had dedicated himself to painting.
Luce befriended Camille Pissarro, who introduced him to the other Parisian Neo-Impressionists, including Georges Seurat and Paul Signac. Luce adopted their Divisionist technique of painting, applying color through separated, short brushstrokes, and began exhibiting his works at the Salons des Artistes Indépendants. He was even inducted into the Société des Artistes Indépendants, and given an official position on the board. However, he soon resigned from the society due to his political activism—he protested the society's refusal to allow Jewish artists to exhibit at the Salons. Indeed, Luce was a zealous leftist who frequently wrote for anarchist and socialist publications. He was even arrested and briefly detained by the French police, who deemed him a "dangerous anarchist." Luce died in his Paris home at the age of eighty-three; only a few months later the Bibliothèque Nationale de France held a retrospective exhibition for the artist. His work is now in public collections throughout the world, including the Musée d'Orsay and the National Museum of Modern Art, Paris; the National Gallery, Oslo; and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.