Levy-Dhurmer was a French
Symbolist and Art Nouveau painter and
potter. Lucien Levy-Dhurmer was a master of pastels, painter of
fantastical scenes, portraits and beautiful Mediterranean landscapes. He
was born Lucien LÚvy to a Jewish family in Algiers. From 1879 Lucien
Levy attended drawing and sculpture classes at his local school in
Paris. In 1886, he met Raphael Collin, who advised him in art training.
From 1887-1895 Lucien Levy-Dhurmer lived at Golfe Juan, working as a decorator of porcelain figurines and objets d'art. Lucien Levy- Dhurmer first discovered classical art on a trip to Italy. Returning to Paris in 1869, he exhibited under a pseudonym, adding the last two syllables of his mother's maiden name (Goldhurmer) to his own, probably to avoid confusion with another artist called LÚvy. In 1879 Levy began studying drawing and sculpture in Paris. In 1895 Lucien Levy-Dhurmer left for Paris to begin a career in painting. Around this time Lucien Levy Dhurmer visited Italy and was further influenced by art of the Renaissance. His characteristic style, a hazy academicism, was appreciated in equal measure by the public and by other artists. While maintaining an academic approach to detail, Lucien Levy-Dhurmer assimilated the lessons of Impressionism, creating works whose astonishingly successful coloristic harmony invariably relates to the idea or vision he sought to invoke.
Lucien Levy-Dhurmer's pastel and charcoal picture "Medusa" or "Waging Wave" (shown here) was completed in 1897. The artwork is an excellent example of the symbolist style. Symbolists prefer vision to sight. The art is tinged with spirituality and plunges into beliefs, myths and legends. For them woman is often a deadly creature, a poisonous, raging being, a monster of accursed beauty. The world of appearances fades away before the dream like universe; the elements come to life, take human form and become nightmarish figures. They call themselves Symbolists, these painters, draughtsman and artists who share the same goal: to make the invisible visible, to cling to fate, dreams from the subconscious and other places. Lucien Levy- praise for the academic attention to detail with which he captured figures lost in a Pre-Raphaelike haze of melancholy, contrasted with bright Impressionist coloration. His portrait of writer Georges Rodenbach is perhaps the most striking example of this strange and extraordinary synergy. Lucien Levy Dhurmer began to use pastels a great deal, this medium with its suggestive blurred effects, lending itself to the magic of symbolism; several of his contemporaries, particularly Fantin-Latour and Khnopff, were equally attracted by his pastel technique. He was influenced by the ideas both of Khnopff and the Pre-Raphaelites (this latter influence can be seen particularly in his rather languid women and his idealized figures). Levy-Dhurmer exhibited frequently at the Salon d'Automne.
By the end of the century both critics and literary men began to admire his work: Mauclair, Soulier, De Miomandre praised him at great length and Leon Thevenin devoted his book La Renaissance paienne (1898) to him. At this time, LÚvy-Dhurmer moved away from expressly Symbolist content, incorporating more landscapes into his work. His style, which played skillfully on the academic treatment of visionary subjects, delighted a society which flattered him, encouraged in this by the admiration which the well-known Belgian poet Goerges Rodenbach had for him. Lucien Levy-Dhurmer did a famous portrait of Rodenbach set against the background of the city of Bruges. Lucien Levy-Dhurmer continued to draw inspiration from music and attempted to capture works of great composers such as Beethoven in painted form. Although very limited information is available about Lucien Levy-Dhurmer, his artwork is a favorite for many and his "Medusa" is displayed at the Orsay Musuem in Paris. Since his artwork speaks volumes, we have added this wonderful YouTube video of his work. Lucien Levy-Dhurmer died in Le VÚsinet in 1953.