Maurice Chabas ( - )

Maurice Chabas

Maurice Chabas was born in Nantes. He was the son of a rich merchant and painting enthusiast, and the elder brother of the painter Paul-Émile Chabas. After attending the School of Fine Arts in Nantes, he went on to study at the Julian Academy where he was a student of William Bougereau and Tony Robert-Fleury.

After devoting himself to a gallant pre-Raphaelism in the 1890s, he gradually turned to symbolist landscape. It was this second phase that ensured Maurice Chabas a number of state purchases.

By rejecting realism, Chabas proposed a complete reform of the art of painting that he conveyed with eloquence and conviction in his writings: "For a long time, alas! the artist has confined himself to the sensations and impressions of the outside world. He has been an eye and a hand but has neglected the manifestations of the interior life, which alone would give a definitive character to these works". The art is all personal, all intimate and reflexive at Chabas. These works are marked by mysticism. For him "art must raise the soul of the spectator, and magnetize him towards the realities of the higher worlds".

It is perhaps the journalist and art critic Léon de Saint-Valéry who best described this dimension of the painting of Maurice Chabas: "From all these landscapes emanate serenity, peace, like a supreme detachment. Things seem to have lost their materiality. Their beauty tends to the desire of the absolute beauty, of the one that will be at the same time harmonic and geometrical; their appeasement predisposes to the mental silence necessary to perceive the word hidden under the appearances ".

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