Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer (1865-1953)

Biography

Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer was a French Symbolist and Art Nouveau artist who worked in a variety of mediums including painting, drawing, ceramic, furniture and interior design. He was born Lucien Lévy in 1865 to a Jewish family in Algiers while Algeria was under French colonial rule. At this time, the Jews in Algeria were subjected to several restrictions as a result of waves of anti-Semitism. The Jewish people were not considered French citizens until the 24th of October, 1870 and even then, only men were granted full citizenship.

It is unclear when he immigrated to France, though it is known that he exhibited a ceramic plaque depicting the birth of Venus in the Paris Salon of 1882. From 1887 to 1895, Lévy began working in the studio of Clément Massier where he was first a ceramic decorator and later an artistic director. Together they worked on lustre glazes and techniques. The first works he signed with his own name were created in 1892 and were heavily influenced by Islamic design. As a Symbolist, he rejected realism in favour of mysticism and spirituality.

Soon after, he moved to Paris where he began painting. Around this time, he travelled to Italy where he was greatly influenced by Renaissance art. In 1896, he exhibited pastels and paintings for the first time the Galerie Georges Petit under the name Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer. Dhurmer was taken from the last two syllables of his mother's maiden name (Goldhurmer) most likely to differentiate himself from others of the same name like Symbolist painter Leopold Lévy. He was praised for his academic attention to detail much like the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Many of his works are similarly notable for their melancholic air. Unlike the Brotherhood, however, his work often features a bright palette of pastel hues. He later travelled throughout North Africa and Europe which inspired him to begin painting landscapes. After 1901, he drew his inspiration for his works from music.

Lévy-Dhurmer died in Le Vésinet in 1953.