Painter (1896-1954)

Painter, book illustrator as early as 1925, decorator, poster designer, Jean Berque, originating from Reims, was a pupil of Félix VALLOTTON, Paul SERUSIER and Maurice DENIS of the Nabis school at the RANSON Academy. He learned to know the landscapes of Morocco, Spain and Italy. In Southern France, he became acquainted with many artists, such as DUNOYER de SEGONZAC and Aristide MAILLOL.
In his works, he established his taste for still lifes, landscapes and nudes in simple and stylised drawing, which drew him praise from the Inter-War period critics. He became one of the first members of the Reims Union for Decorative Arts, established by E. KALAS in 1922.

He took part in many exhibitions: Autumn salons (1924-1928), Tuileries exhibitions (1927-1934), exhibitions in different galleries.

As an illustrator, he executed works for books by VERLAINE, RONSARD, du BELLAY, Pierre LOUYS, COLETTE, TAGORE, André MAUROIS, Paul CLAUDEL, mainly for the GONIN publisher (Paris, Lausanne).

Maurice DENIS

Painter (1870-1943)

Maurice DENIS was born in Granville (Normandy).

If he resided mostly in Saint-Germain-en Laye, the artist travelled many times to Italy and Brittany.
His encounter with SERUSIER, the example of GAUGUIN made Maurice DENIS become a member of the Nabis group, among whom he was regarded as their theorist. He was nicknamed the “Beautiful Icon Nabi”.
Inspired by Symbolism from the start of his career to his death, Maurice DENIS’ work as a painter denoted great coherence, as he strived his whole life to conciliate the decorative atmosphere and the content, always taking a new form, in his creation.
This became apparent after 1919 when he established the “Sacred Art Workshops” with Georges DESVALLIERES, at the same moment his long-suffering wife Marthe died. In his Saint-Germain-en Laye priory, he decorated the chapel centred on the theme of Saint Martha (frescoes, furniture, stained-glass windows).

He was active in many religious buildings and his involvement with Saint-Nicaise happened on two occasions.


Decorator (1873-1959)

Born in Lausanne (Switzerland), the son of a Protestant minister, this French artist is typical of the neo-classical style in the Art Deco period. Architect, then decorator, G. JAULMES designed mural paintings, panels, stage curtains, fabrics, screens, ceramics, posters, and tapestry cartoons. Landscapes and gardens are used as backdrops in his decorative works.
A decorator but also a painter, he executed easel paintings in which he used subdued tones to seek an intimist ambience. He was also a book illustrator. A major artist, he was to some extent little known, because of important work on monumental frescoes, unfortunately in situ.

Major works:
- Kérylos Villa (Beaulieu-sur-Mer) erected c. 1904, in association with Adrien KARBOWSKY, under the direction of architect PONTREMOLI for Théodore REINACH, archaeologist and patron.
- Many frescoes: The Palais de Chaillot (Paris), the Boulogne-Billancourt synagogue, the Town-halls of Neuilly, Arras, Cachan, the Rodin Museum, the Fougeraie country house (Brussels), exhibitions in varied salons, e.g. the decorative artists’ salon in 1911.

It is worth noting that Gustave Jaulmes decorated the Protestant church in Reims (1923). His frescoes are today covered in white paint.

René-Jules LALIQUE

Master-glazier (1860-1945)

A brilliant jeweller and grand master of glassmaking, René LALIQUE is considered one of the great designers of Art nouveau for his jewels and of Art Deco for his glass works. René Jules LALIQUE (1860-1945), born in Ay-en-Champagne (Marne) died in Paris.
C. 1894, (inspired by MORRIS et RUSKIN) he was the proponent of the naturalist movement in his jewellery creations. The 3Fs (Flora, Fauna, Femininity) inspired Rene LALIQUE in his ornamentation. He revitalized jewellery in an unexpected way by associating gold and gems with material hitherto seldom used, such as horn and ivory. He rehabilitated semi-precious gems, exalted enamel and enhanced glass. He can be regarded as the inventor of the modern jewel, in which beauty prevails over luxury.

The magic lure of glass

René LALIQUE’s first experiments in the field of glass dated back to the 1890s. Jewellery making processes had made him familiar with glazes. It was probably thanks to enamel that he found out about glass (enamel with relief surfaces manufacturing patent).
C. 1902, René LALIQUE began to show interest in the decorative potential of glass at an architectural scale. He invented two glass panel doors for his mansion house by assembling thick glass sheets, cast in low relief, with spruce and athletes’ patterns.

From craftsmanship to industry

His encounter with perfumer COTY was the start of mass production of small bottles and glass artefacts. Having mastered the process in 1912, he decided to pursue his new passion, glass, and the same year, he exhibited his last jewellery. He gave up multilayer glass and various colours to concentrate on the natural qualities of glass: clearness and transparency.
He moulded, pressed, engraved, and mounted glass using the ‘lost wax’ method or by blowing in a blow mould. He created aesthetic effects, such as frosted glass and opalescent glass. An unrivalled technician, he filed fifteen patents between 1909 and 1936, testifying to his incredible inventiveness (manufacturing process, mounting and closing systems…). So his works reached the pinnacle of luxury and aesthetics.


Painter (1859-1929)

Ernest LAURENT, (June 8, 1859, Gentilly) died on June 25, 1929 in Bièvres.

A pupil of Henri LEHMANN and a companion of artists such as SEURAT and LE SIDANER, he took the second Prix de Rome in 1889 for his work entitled “Christ and the paralytic”. From 1919 onwards, a member of the Academy of Fine Arts and professor in the National School of Fine Arts, this sensitive artist could find himself placed between Impressionism and Pointillism, with his intimist and poetic finish.

A close friend of Georges CHARBONNEAUX, he painted a canvas picture full of delicacy depicting the Baptism of Christ for the Saint-Nicaise church.
This painting, very subtle and insufficiently highlighted, is located above the Baptistery’s entrance.
It was marouflaged in July 1926, together with Maurice DENIS’ canvasses.
(source P. CHATELIN)


Painter & sculptor (Saint-Etienne 1875-1963)

Emma, the daughter of Félix THIOLLIER and Cécile TESTENOIRE-LAFAYETTE, began her artistic education with Paul BOREL, a painter from Lyons. She grew up in an inspired artistic circle. She greatly admired François Auguste RAVIER and met his entire father’s artist friends coming to pay visits in the Forez. They included Louis JANMOT, Emile NOIROT, Charles BEAUVERIE, François GUIGUET, François SIMON, the architect Pierre BOSSAN, and Father Paul LACURIA.
Arriving in Paris in 1892, she studied sculpture in FREMIET’s and LANDOWSKI’s studio. She followed painting lessons from Jean-Paul LAURENS in the Julian Academy and drawing with Paul FLANDRIN. When she was 24, her career as painter and sculptor began in the Salons: French Artists’ Association (1899-1920), Lyons Fine Arts Society (1905-1914, then 1930-1941), Autumn Salon (1904), Salon des Indépendants (1905-1914), National Fine Arts Society (1920-1959), in the religious art, sculpture and metal engraving sections. In 1931, she exhibited at the Tuileries Salon, along with G. DESVALLIERES (Stations of the Cross). She was commissioned in 1934 to decorate the garden city church (see below, preparatory sketch).

A very appealing and charismatic figure, she was animated by a deep faith which transpires in her whole work, both secular and religious. She lived simply and committed herself to provide assistance to the poor and destitute. Her artist status brought her to her loftiest ideals, but not fame, which she despised. Her painting works included roughly 300 finished creations, all techniques included (pastels, oil paintings, watercolours). Her sculptures numbered approximately 60 works (statuary, low reliefs, medallions) in terre cotta, wax, plaster, wood, marble, bronze, gold, metallised plaster, and ceramic.
Involved in the “Sacred Art Workshops”, with Georges DESVALLIERES and Paul BUFFET, she designed tympana, statues, crosses, tabernacles, candleholders or mural paintings. Her creativity brought her to many other practices: portraits, illustrations, pottery, works on textile, and jewels (christening medals). Childless, she died at age 98, supported by her many nephews, the sons of her three brothers.

Source: Christine Boyer-Thiollier


Sculptor (1887-1958)

A pupil of sculptors Michel-Louis-Victor MERCIER and Victor PETER, he first exhibited at the French Artists’ Salon in 1910. After World War One, in which he distinguished himself, he took part again in the same Salon (1920: bronze medal, 1922: silver medal, 1927: gold medal). Heading the Sculpture section of the “Sacred Arts Workshops”, he executed many works, one of the most emblematic being the giant statue of the Blessed Virgin, 26.3 ft. high, commissioned for the Vatican pavilion at the International Exhibition in 1937. Towards the end of his life, he created a grandiose work: a life-size Station of the cross, which was transferred to the Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal.

He executed several sculptures for the Saint-Nicaise church.

©2016 Association “Les Amis de Saint-Nicaise du Chemin-Vert“ | comedia-studio
English translation by Denis Mac Kee