Friday, 25 March 2016

Maurice de Sausmarez: An Eclectic British painter

Maurice de Sausmarez (1915-1969) had a retrospective at the Stanley and Audrey Burton gallery at Leeds University, from 20th October 2015 to 20th February 2016. The exhibition marked the centenary of De Sausmarez's birthday and was curated by Dr. Hilary Diaper. 

Exhibition's Posters of Maurice de Sausmarez


Maurice de Sausmarez was born in 1915 in Australia, but trained at the Royal College of Art before the Second World War. In 1947, he was appointed as the Head of the School of Drawing and Painting at Leeds College of Art.  He was the first Head of Department of Fine Arts from 1951 to 1959. Then he became the first Head of Fine Art at Hornsey College of Art (1959 - 1962) and then Principal of the independent Byam Shaw School of Drawing and Painting until his death in 1969.

Pictures of Maurice de Sausmarez
Maurice de Sausmarez in his painting studio, Leeds, 1950s

Pictures of Maurice de Sausmarez
Pictures of Maurice de Sausmarez


The main interest of the exhibition is how a 20th-painter embodied so many different styles and aspirations, and how he adapted his art. De Sausmarez's first paintings were Impressionist with a play of colour with his beautiful portraits of women, in a Cezanne-esque style. 

Self-Portrait at a table with glasses and flowers, Maurice de Sausmarez, 1949, Private Collection, London.
Self-Portrait at a table with glasses and flowers, Maurice de Sausmarez, 1949, Private Collection, London.  

The scenography takes the visitor to another era, the 60's, with a shift in the artist's style. The exhibition introduces the Fauve de Sausmarez, which moves towards Cubism and plays with colours. The landscapes of this periods are particularly striking with their strong forms and soft pastel colours. 

Still Life (unfinished), Maurice De Sausmarez, c.1966, Private Collection.
Still Life (unfinished), Maurice de Sausmarez, c.1966, Private Collection. 

De Sausmarez's experiment with Cubism and Fauvism lead him to Op Art and his collaboration with Bridget Riley. This prolific cooperation between the two artist led De Sausmarez to write a book about Riley and to promote her work across Britain. His own works moved towards Abstract painting. 

Farm on the Road to Mantaione, Maurice De Sausmarez, 1965, Private Collection.
Farm on the Road to Mantaione, Maurice de Sausmarez, 1965, Private Collection.  


Maurice de Sausmarez's eclecticism was what made him unique. Throughout his life he played with several technique, from charcoal to oil painting,  but always made it his own. This exhibition is a discovery of a painter who always looked forward while knowing his masters and predecessors. 

Stricklands Ltd, Maurice De Sausmrez, 1944, Martin Bloomfield Collection.
Stricklands Ltd, Maurice de Sausmrez, 1944, Martin Bloomfield Collection. 

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