Project Description

Alfred Courmes

Paris, canal view , dated 1928
Drawing, watercolour, gouache
Size: 17.5 x 11.5cm
With frame: 37.5 x 32.5 cm
Price: 1500 €

Alfred Courmes represents what would be the Saint Martin canal from the beginning of the 20th century. His urban landscape, accomplished and neat, shows all the dexterity of the painter.

He draws several moored boats and a crane overlooking the Parisian buildings. The artist colored part of his drawing, revealing a piece of blue sky. He burnished two doors and treated the facade of the building with touches of color.

Biography :

After his secondary studies in Monaco, his father, a naval officer, encouraged him to pursue his vocation as a painter. He went to Paris in 1925, became a pupil of Roger de La Fresnaye. He exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants. At the Salon d’Automne, he shows his cubist paintings and some portraits.

The following year, he moved to Ostend where he was inspired by both his contemporaries (Ensor, Permeke, Labisse) while immersing himself in old Flemish and Dutch painting. He discovers Van Eyck, Hans Holbein, Dürer, Brueghel in the museums of Bruges and Ghent.

It lends itself to the way of painting of the Surrealists, the Classics and even the Expressionists. His paintings divert mythological themes and borrow from the imagery of the advertising of his time for humorous purposes. Nicknamed the Angel of Bad Taste by his detractors, his provocations brought him to public notoriety.

In 1930 he moved to Paris and in 1936 received the Paul Guillaume Prize (shared with Tal-Coat) for his Saint Sébastien . He painted Le Toucher to order in 1937, for the pavilion of the Sèvres factory at the Paris International Exhibition. In 1938, the Minister of National Education Albert Sarraut commissioned him to decorate the dining room of the French Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

He was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in 1991. Alfred Courmes, “the unclassifiable” has put his solid culture and classical technique at the service of an art imbued with caustic humor and great poetry. He follows his path without ever giving in to ease. The value of this endearing and unique artist is now recognized in art circles.

Main exhibitions:

• 1965: Biennial of São Paulo, Brazil

• 1977: Retrospective, Jean Briance Gallery, Paris

• 1979: Retrospective, Grenoble museum

• 1984: Writing in painting, CNAC, Nice

• 1989: Retrospective, Museum of Fine Arts in Poitiers

• 1989: Retrospective, Saint-Roch museum in Issoudun

• 1989: Retrospective, Roubaix Museum of Fine Arts

• 1989: Retrospective, Center Georges-Pompidou, Paris

• 1998: Realists of the 1920s, Seita Museum-Gallery, Paris

In 1946, he participated in the Surrealist exhibition in Lille with Magritte, he exhibited at the Salon de Mai. He is recognized as the precursor of a generation of young painters in the exhibition “Twelve Years of Contemporary Art” at the National Gallery of the Grand Palais in 1972. He participated in the exhibition “Daily Mythologies” at the Museum of Modern Art of the city of Paris as well as that “The Realisms between revolution and reaction 1919-1939” at the Center Georges-Pompidou.


Gilles Bernard and V. Andriveau, Alfred Courmes , Paris, Editions Le Cherche Midi, 2003, 183 pages


• Paris, Center Georges-Pompidou

Museum of Fine Arts in Bormes-Les-Mimosas, Beauvais, Blérancourt, Boulogne-Billancourt, Grenoble, Issoudun, Poitiers and Roubaix.

• Internationally: Museum of Fine Arts of Algiers

The curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquires the San Sebastian at the Lock on a personal basis.