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Fernand Allard L'Olivier was a Belgian artist born in 1883 in the French-speaking town of Tornai. He studied at the Académie Julian in 1901 in Paris and began his career there. He was a prolific artist who worked in various mediums, from book illustrations to theatrical scenery as well as oil paintings. In 2007, Christie's auctioned one of his African-themed paintings, with an estimated value of $50-65,000. It sold for just under $142,000.
L'Olivier made his first trip to Congo in 1928, commissioned by the Belgian colonial office. He returned with forty major African paintings, which earned him the reputation as an Africanist painter. A series of sketches he painted in Lake Kivu region were the basis for large decorative panels to honor the Belgian Congo at the International Exhibition in Antwerp in 1930. Perhaps this postcard scene of the Chief Farmer in Kivu is a detail from one of those panels? From 1932 to 1933, he returned to Congo to continue his painting. Sadly, it was during this second trip in June that he fell into the Congo River and died. (Thanks to Wikipedia fo r this biographical information.)
Because of its size, when I initially looked at the stamp verso, I thought it was marked 1981. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this vintage postcard is not the modern 4x6 standard postcard size, but an in-between size, measuring just under 4 inches wide by 5.5 inches. And the date is 50 years earlier, commemorating Paris' International Colonial Expo in 1931! Along with the Expo stamp is the Croix Rouge (Red Cross) of the Congo stamp. Perhaps purchase of this card was a relief fund-raiser?
Please note that the chief's robe is a rich, dark red against a silver background. In the photo, the robe looks more orange. The direct scan is closer to the true colors.
The card shows signs of wear on the edges and corner tips, very light crease at top left quadrant. The colors are so rich and bold in this composition that any signs of age seem irrelevant. The heart of the image is simply striking.
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1931 Paris Colonial Exhibition Red Cross Artist Signed Postcard of Congo Chief
$5 USD SOLD
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