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Paul Maze: The Last of the Post-Impressionists

5th August 2022.

A Private Collection of paintings by Paul Maze, with provenance from the family of his second wife Jessie, are to be sold in the Modern & Contemporary Art Sale on 15th October.

Paul Maze (1887-1979), often referred to as ‘The Last of the Post-Impressionists’, had the extraordinary ability to capture the essence of a place with deceptive simplicity. He painted with immediacy, and his skills were once described by his lifelong friend Winston Churchill as “with the fewest of strokes, he can create an impression at once true and beautiful”.

Maze was born in Le Havre, Normandy, the son of a successful tea merchant and art collector. From an early age he was surrounded by art, and was fortunate to count Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Dufy as family friends. Indeed, it was Pissarro who would teach him the rudiments of art before he was sent to school in Southampton at the age of 12 to perfect his English. Here he fell in love with all things English.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Maze was turned away from the French Army having been deemed unfit for service. However, seeing soldiers from the Royal Scots Guards disembarking at Le Havre, he offered his services as an interpreter. Despite not having and official position, which led to his near execution at the hands of a British firing squad after he was wrongly accused of being a spy, he went onto become a highly decorated soldier who sketched his experiences when opportunity allowed. It was during his time in the trenches that he met Winston Churchill, the pair bonding over their mutual love of painting. Maze would become Churchill’s artistic mentor, and in return Churchill introduced him into British aristocratic circles and was instrumental in obtaining commissions for Maze at military events and his appointment as official artist for the funeral of King George VI and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Maze would spend much of his life living in England, however, after the First World War he lived in Paris and became an integral member of the art scene. He counted amongst his friends Derain, Bonnard and Vuillard, and the latter had encouraged Maze to concentrate on working with pastels, which best suited his style. Maze turned his hand to a variety of subject matter, from marines to cityscapes, and the gentle landscapes of the English and French countryside. However, he had a particular love of painting the pomp and circumstance of British army parades and the social whirl of the English season, and he could be frequently found at Cowes, Henley and Goodwood. Having married his second wife, Jessie, Maze moved to the South Downs in 1950, where he would remain for the rest of his life. He fell in love with the softly rolling hills, which he frequently depicted. He died at the age of 92, at home looking over the Downs, with a pastel in his hand.


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