Albert Decaris

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Olympic medal record
Art competitions
Gold 1948 Amsterdam Engravings and etchings

Albert Decaris (born May 6, 1901 in Sotteville-lès-Rouen; died January 1, 1988 in Paris) was a French artist, engraver, painter and aquarellist.

At only 19, he won the Concours de Rome, the most prised award for young artists in France at the time. He has been elected fellow of the French Académie des Beaux Arts in 1943.

He was first illustrator of luxury art books, such as Le chant de mon voyage vers la Grèce (my Grecian travel’s song) by Léon Cathlin, Combourg by Chateaubriand, Les discours des misères de ce temps (Discourse regarding the misery of the present time) by Ronsard, Les destinées (destiny) by Alfred de Vigny, etc. In 1931, he produced a Macbeth. After 1958, President Charles de Gaulle was fond of Decaris’s works, especially of the illustration of his own book Le fil de l’épée (The edge of the sword).

In the 1930s, he embarked himself into postal stamps carving, resulting in more than 500 such vignettes, for the French or other (mostly African) postal services. Stamp collectors are fond of Decaris stamps, as well as of the numerous associated derivative products: small images or illustrated envelopes sold the first day a new stamp is emitted.

At the same time, he was preparing large plates mostly for his own pleasure, on a wide variety of subjects: careful (almost technical) representations of monuments and places of interest, as was the task of an engraver in the 19th century; scenes of history, real life or imaginary; scenes of mythology or of imagination, not far from surrealism; mere caricatures, with a sense of humour. Some are bounded in albums, such as The Apocalypse or The Zodiac.

In the whole, he remains as the best and the most notorious French engraver of the 20th century, with a very strange mix of classicism and audacity. As noticed by columnist Yvan Christ “Decaris works take place beyond times and styles. They are made for duration.” (L'Amateur d'Art, Paris, Feb 1988).

References[edit]

  • Isabel Boussard-Decaris, Jean-Marc Boussard : Decaris le singulier, Éditions de la Nerthe, Ollioules (France), 2005
  • Bernard Gontier : Maitre Decaris. Sa vie. Son oeuvre philatélique
  • Phila N°1, édition spéciale du Monde des philatélistes, Paris (France), 1988