Old Pastel Master: Edgar Chahine

Edgar Chahine Collage

Edgar Chahine Collage
Edgar Chahine Collage

Edgar Chahine (1874-1947) was born in Vienna, Austria to Armenian parents and he grew up in Constantinople, Turkey. Chahine and his mother had moved to Venice to escape the persecution of Armenians in Turkey, and there Chahine started studying art in 1892.
At age 21 he decided to travel to Paris and pursue a career in fine arts. He studied painting under formal instruction at the Académie Julian. Chahine began to experiment with the possibilities of print making at the age of 25. Although he had already achieved some success with his paintings, he became fascinated with prints and soon worked exclusively in this medium. His prints were very much in demand by collectors and he won several medals and awards and received many commissions. The death of his fiancé plunged him into a deep depression, and he left Paris to travel through Italy. This voyage gave him the serenity and the inspiration to begin working with new enthusiasm actually etching the day’s drawings onto copper plates in his hotel room each night. He returned with new vigor and expanded his efforts to once again include pastels and oils in his work. Many of Chahine’s prints were lost in a fire in his atelier in 1926, and many more were destroyed in a flood in 1942. Some of the remaining pastel works can be found at the Musee Armenian de France in Paris.

Featured Pastel Artist: Jean-François Le Saint

Jean-François Le Saint "Le poisson"

Jean-François Le Saint "Le poisson"
Jean-François Le Saint "Le poisson"

Jean-François Le Saint is french pastelist and The Société des Pastellistes de France named him the Master Pastel Artist. I was lucky enough to get a short interview with Jean-François.
Can you tell us something about your art background?
“I guess I am self taught. I did go to art school, but it was a graphic arts school, we were not actually taught painting techniques. They had us try different media and that is how I first came into contact with pastels and instantly adopted them as my favorite technique.”
I find the portraits of the kids to be extra challenging and yet you make it look so easy. Is there any secret to a good kid portrait?
“Probably painting hundreds of them helps :). I can’t say it is easy, but I know that for the result to be good it has to be done without strain. If I encounter difficulties I leave the portrait aside and sometimes pick it up again after some weeks or months have passed. Whatever the subject, if you struggle, it shows in the result and usually it is no good, I think.”
Do you have any favorite old pastelist?
“One of my favorite old pastel artist is Lucien Lévy-Dhurmer. I also often look at the works of Edgar Degas, but I can’t say he is a favorite of mine, although I do like to inspect how he worked.”
Please check the Jean-François Flicker photostream and prepare for the long hours of the pure pastel delight 🙂 . His work was presented in the french art magazine Pratique des Arts in two separate articles and you can find the soft copy versions on the Flicker as well.

Old Pastel Master: Herni de Toulouse Lautrec

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec pastel works
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec pastel works

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901)
Born in Albi, France, in an aristocratic family that dated back a thousand years. He started to draw and paint as a kid, by the time he was 10.
Young Toulouse-Lautrec had two accidents braking his legs, one by the other, which have never healed properly and thus stopped growing. That’s why as adult he was only 1.5 meters tall. Deprived of the kind of life that a normal body would have permitted, Toulouse-Lautrec lived wholly for his art and is famous for his paintings of the night-life of late 19th-century Paris (including cabaret dancers, prostitutes, racetracks and circus performers) and show posters.
Henri would also sit at a crowded nightclub table, laughing and drinking, and at the same time he would make swift sketches. The next morning in his studio he would expand the sketches into bright-colored paintings. Becoming part of the Montmartre life and in order to protect himself against the crowd’s ridicule of his appearance, Toulouse-Lautrec began to drink heavily. The invention of the cocktail “Earthquake” or Tremblement de Terre is attributed to Toulouse-Lautrec; a potent mixture containing half absinthe and half cognac.
Among the others such as Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh and Herni Rousseau he was well known as Post-Impressionist. He died  in family château of Malrom at age of 37.
Upon his death, the majority of his paintings were offered to The Louvre Museum, and the Louvre rejected them. Later his paintings and posters, particularly the ‘Moulin Rouge’ group, have been in great demand and bring high prices at auctions and art sales.

Source: Compton’s Encyclopedia, Wikipedia

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