Home » Artists » Maxime Maufra – The Lesser Known French Impressionist

Maxime Maufra & His Early Years

Maxime Maufra was born in Nantes in 1861.  It seems Maufra always loved painting. In his hometown and at a young age, Maufra studied landscape painting under the guidance of two local painters Charles Le Roux and Charles Lebourg.

When Maufra completed high school, his parents wanted him to study a respectable profession and they sent him to Britain to study commerce.  However during his business studies,  Maufra sought out what was happening in the British art world. The British artists, John Constable and J.M.W. Turner impressed and influenced him greatly.

Maxime Maufra Painting
Maxime Maufra Painting

Maufra Gives Up Business for His Dream of Painting

On finishing his business studies, Maufra returned to France. Initially he worked in business and painted in his spare time. However two years later, the prestigious Paris Salon accepted a few of his paintings. This gave him the courage to give up business as a career and to become a full time artist.

The impressionism art movement and in particular, Camille Pissarro and Alfred Sisley, hugely influenced Maufra’s painting style during this period.

Maxime Maufra Landscape
Maxime Maufra Landscape

Maufra Moves to Paris

Maufra moves to Montmartre, Paris in 1892 to be part of the dynamic art world. He was even the first painter to move into the Bateau-Lavoir. Many years later Juan Gris, Max Jacob, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso & others would live in this very same building  and set up their painting studios here).

Painting the Scenery of Normandy & Brittany

Although living in the epicenter of the Art world, Maufra loved nature. During the summer months, Maufra traveled throughout Normandy and Brittany. During his travels, Maufra captured onto his canvases, impressionism snapshots of the Norman and Briton countryside and coastline.

While in Brittany, he met the Pont Aven and Synthetism artists, such as Paul Gauguin & Paul Sérusier and incorporated elements of their painting styles into his own artworks. However Maufra didn’t stay in Pont Aven as he found this village too crowded with artists. Instead, Maufra prefered to live and work in more isolated communities, amongst peasants, farmers and fishingmen. 

The Normandy Coast - Maxime Maufra Painting
The Normandy Coast – Maxime Maufra Painting

A Major Breakthrough – Durand-Ruel Discovers Maxime Maufra

In 1894 Maufra had his first solo exhibition in Paris. This was a turning point for Maufra as he was discovered by the Impressionism patron and art dealer, Durand-Ruel. Now with an art dealer buying his art on a regular basis, Maufra was able to continue his travels and paint. His extensive travels took him to Brittany, Normandy, England, Scotland, Belgium, and Algeria. All these places he immortalized in his paintings.

Maufra died while painting at the age of 57.

Maxime Maufra Painting
Maxime Maufra Painting

Maxime Maufra’s Legacy

Despite the influences of the 19th century art movements, such as Impressionism, Pointillism and Synthetism , Maufra, remained an independent, eclectic painter. His beautiful paintings depict harbors, oceans, ships and countryside. His style is characterized by his use of bold colors and broad and short brushstrokes .

In France, you can view Maxime Maufra’s artworks in:

In Europe:

  • Tate Gallery, London
  • Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid
  • Wallraf-Richartz-Museum und Fondation Courboud, Köln

In North America:

  • Museum of Fine Art, Boston,
  • Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
  • Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
  • Los Angeles County Museum
  • Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Maxime Maufra painting
Maxime Maufra Seascape

There were other talented French impressionists who did not get the glamour and fame of the impressionism masters such as Renoir, Monet & Degas. Mary Cassatt, Albert Lebourg , Marie Bracquemond, Gustave Caillebotte & others are less familiar names. However these artists were extremely talented and active in the French impressionism art movement. Read their stories and have a peek at their lovely artworks.