He was born in Tillières-sur-Avre, Euredépartement, in Normandy, from a Picard lawyer father, a member of the Saint Francis third order, and from a Parisian mother, of Burgundian ancestry. Until the age of twelve Maurice Boitel lived in Burgundy at Gevrey-Chambertin. In this beautiful province his art reflected his major love of nature, and also the feeling of joie de vivre expressed in his works. He began drawing at the age of five.
Fine arts studies
Boitel studied at the Fine Arts schools of Boulogne-sur-Mer and of Amiens, cities where his parents lived for a few years. Then his family came back to Burgundy, to Nuits-Saint-Georges. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy of Dijon before fighting in a mountain light infantry platoon at the beginning of World War II.
He successfully sat the competitive examination to enter the National Academy of Fine Arts École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (Paris). In 1942 and 1943, during the most difficult period of the German occupation, in his studio located in the center of Paris he hid Jewish refugees, among them the journalist Henry Jelinek.
A great number of his paintings from between 1942 and 1946 were bought by a British collector and are still in London.
In 1949 he presented an individual exhibition of his paintings of Algeria in the Gallery of the Elysée, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré (Paris), at that time the center of the European art trade.
In 1951, new individual exhibition in this same gallery; he also took part in a group exhibition in the Suillerot Gallery and topic exhibition, chaired by the producer Jacques Hébertot, within the framework of the Association of the Amateurs of painting.
Different other awards come to crown his career of painter, among which the Grand-Prix (Great award) of the General Council of Seine-et-Marne (1974), the Prize Roger Deverin watercolour decided by the Taylor Foundation (1984).
Individual exhibitions, in the museums of the following towns: Boulogne-sur-Mer in 1976, Saint-Maur-des-Fossés in 1977, Montbard in 1982, Montreuil-sur-Mer in 1993, enabled him to present in several rooms, of the retrospectives with large tables where appear of the compositions as well as landscapes of France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, etc.
In 1990, the Salon d'Automne of Paris voted him a homage in three halls of the Grand Palais of Paris.
In 1999, President Jean Monneret and the Committee of the Salon des Indépendants of Paris invited him to present a retrospective of his works.
In 2007, the committee of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts created the title of Member of Honour which was given to Maurice Boitel, as one of the most famous painters of the Salon, still alive.
In 2009, Boitel's paintings were shown in à "Art en capital" in the Grand Palais de Paris: two of Maurice Boitel' works: a watercolor in the Salon du dessin et de la peinture à l'eau, & an oil on canvas representing a factory in Crossas (Ambazac, Limousin) in the hall dedicated to the members of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
In 2010, 26 paintings of Maurice Boitel were shown in the king-count hall of the castle-museum of Boulogne-sur-Mer with six paintings of his friends among whom Bernard Buffet in May; 12 paintings in the Patio of the council hall of Saint-Mandé (surrounding of Paris) in September ; 2 paintings in the Grand Palais de Paris in November; one painting in the Carrousel du Louvre (Paris) in December, organized by the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.
He was the guest of honor in several exhibitions of painting like: Rosny-sous-Bois (1980), Blois (1983), Wimereux (1984), Villeneuve-le-Roi (1984), Yvetot (1986), Alfortville (1987), Bourges (1987), Saumur (1987), Metz (1991), Limoges (1992), Tours (1992).
The council of Ambazac, Haute-Vienne, gave the name of Maurice Boitel to the city hall square. The inauguration occurred on August 11, 2017. The town council ordered the reproduction on canvas of ten pictures of the painter, for decorating the town buildings. They are exhibited in the townhall from August 1 to October 15, 2017.
Locations of the paintings
The "Municipal Fund contemporary art" of the city of Paris hold about 30 pictures of Maurice Boitel.
Art connoisseurs from Great Britain, United States, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Mexico, etc., acquired many paintings, as well as the French State and the Town of Paris.
Some of his works may be seen in museums of the following towns: Dijon, St-Maur des fossés, Sceaux, Valence, Algiers, Constantine, Béjaïa in particular and also in the town council hall of Paris and in French embassies around the world.
Maurice Boitel painted single-handedly all the frescoes on the classroom walls. In order to make the ceramics himself, he had a kiln built in his own studio. These ceramic panels can still be seen in these schools of Paris close suburbs.
The painter's evolution continued during all his life: up to 1946, the year of his marriage, expressive painting; then from 1946 to 1952, a very coloured painting especially in Algeria. From 1952 to 1965, his landscapes were very constructed, the objects defined by black contours with some flat tints in the knife. During this period, he initially painted close to his home in Paris and Saint-Mandé and also the Cap Gris Nez sober and dark paintings of storms, of boats on the beach, ruins of the war. He also painted characters: clowns, poultry stockbreeders, sailors. Then, from 1958 to 1965, he painted in Cadaqués (Spain) every summer. It is always the same style, firmly framed, but where pass the light and the colors sharp of the Mediterranean (landscapes, navy, portraits, crowd on the beach).
From 1965, his work remained structured but contours disappear. He painted many watercolours, in particular in Nice, in Italy and in Sancerrois. Each year, he visited the Cape Gris-Nez, in Audresselles, or in Ambazac, in the Limousin. The Paris area, where he usually resided, also provided him many subjects (Montmartre, the Bois de Vincennes, islands of the Seine river, the Marne, Guermantes and Conches-sur-Gondoire ). During the eighties, he tended to evoke an idealized reality.
↑ The School of Paris (1945–1965) by Lydia Harambourg. Dictionary of the painters. Collection Ides and Calendes