EMILE ÉLISÉE MACLET (1881-1962) French Impressionist Painter
Original oil painting on wood "Montmartre Cabaret Le Lapin Agile" by French painter Élisée Maclet, c. 1920. Signed lower left. We had this professionally framed. Unframed measurements are: 25 cm x 35 cm. Excellent vintage condition. We have included an auction sale for comparison. “La Maison de Mimi Pinson à Montmartre, Effet de Neige” sold for US $4476.00 in February 2017 in Paris, auctioned by Lombrail Teucquam Maison de Ventes. In April 2017, Christies New York sold a similar Maclet oil painting for $4375.
Born on 12 April 1881 in Lyons-en-Santerre, at 12, the gardener’s son took up painting with the parish priest, Pere Delval, where he was discovered and encouraged by the artist Puvis de Chavannes one April Sunday in 1892. Maclet settled in Montmarte, the artists’ district of Paris, in 1906. He gained a following before serving in WWI, returning when he had leave to his beloved Montmarte.
Back in Montmartre, Maclet stayed at the ‘Lapin Agile’ where he paid for his food by washing dishes and polishing the copper pots. On one of these leaves, he painted two small pictures of Sacre-Coeur and the Moulin de la Galette, which he sold to Monsieur Deibler, who combined his profession as official executioner with a love of the fine arts. M. Deibler was not his only patron and admirer. After WWI, the art dealer Dosbourg bought his work, as did Francis Carco, the mayor of Montmartre, and the famous writers Colette and Max Jacob. The American art dealer Hugo Persall regarded him as the equal of the other great painters of the period. Famous dealers of the time, such as Pierre Menant and Matho Kleimann-Boch hung Maclet’s work beside the paintings of Van Gogh and Picasso in their galleries.
In 1923 Maclet entered into a contact with a wealthy Austrian manufacturer, Baron Von Fray, under which he was to paint in the south of France. Baron Von Frey sensed that Maclet would know how to handle the brilliant light and intense colors of the Mediterranean. A few hours after Maclet’s arrival in Arles, the son of an old and famous friend of Van Gogh’s said to him, “Not since Van Gogh have I seen a painter use color as pure as you do.” Maclet stayed in the region from 1924 to 1928, painting in Orange, Vaison-La Romaine, La Ciotat, Cassis, Golfe Juan, Antibes, Cagnes, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Ville-Franche, Nice, Menton, San Remo, and sending back to Von Frey glowing landscapes and glorious floral still lifes. Von Frey reserved for himself almost the total output of this period and sent most of them to America, where wealthy collectors vied to buy them at high prices.
Many magazines devoted space to Maclet, and an exhibition of his work was held in Paris in 1928. Von Frey also had the satisfaction of seeing paintings by Maclet purchased by important museums in Lyons, Grenoble, and Monte Carlo.
At the end of 1928, Maclet went to paint in Corsica. He spent 1929 and 1930 in Brittany and then went back to his native Picardy to paint. In the middle of 1933 he fell seriously ill and was unable to paint for an extended time. After 1935 he resumed his studies of Paris and in 1945 presented a large exhibition of his work, which garnered high praise from critics.
In 1957 a Parisian gallery organized a restrospective of Maclet’s work, and the solid rise in the prices of Maclet’s paintings dates from that event. Shortly before his death, critics Marcel Guicheteau and Jean Cottel described Maclet: “The artist has reached the state wherein his work is soundly established, across the years like echoes answering each other at intervals of 10, 15, 20 years, all singing the same harmony.” Maclet died in Paris in 1962.