oil on cardboard 36.5 x 49.7
Even today Maurice Denis’ (1870-1943) place in the history of art remains unspecified. Known as the “Nabi of the beautiful icons”, he is celebrated alongside Vuillard and Bonnard as one of the most important Nabi painters, a founder of the movement and its brilliant theoretician.
“Remember that a painting – before being a battle horse, a nude woman, or an anecdote of some sort – is essentially a flat surface covered with colours, put together in a certain order”
In 1893, he married Marthe Meurier, who was to become his muse and give him seven children. The family later moved to Le Prieuré, a historic mansion in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, near Paris, which in 1980, became the Musée Maurice Denis as the result of a family gift. Between 1895 and 1898, Denis spent time in Brittany and Italy, and his love of Italian Renaissance art and the classical tradition is evident in his work. He first became known as a member of the group called the Nabis, the “prophets” of modern art.
At the dawn of the twentieth century, his painting was increasingly marked by his spiritual and religious quests. He created large-scale murals and helped to found the Ateliers d’art sacré. His output as a theoretician and historian of art continued, and his written work was published in 1922 under the title Nouvelles théories sur l’art moderne, sur l’art sacré.
Maurice Denis died in 1943. The diary he had kept since his teens was published in 1957