Charles-Marie DULAC (1866-1898)

A bouquet of chrysanthemums from 1888 by Charles Marie Dulac, with its modern composition and sober, refined palette. A simple, timeless painting imbued with great sensitivity.

Oil on canvas
Signed and dated 1888 lower right
Dimensions: 46 x 33 cm
With frame: 68 x 55 cm
Price: €13,000

A modern layout and a varied touch.

Charles-Marie Dulac presents a bouquet of chrysanthemums, a flower symbolizing happiness, honesty, loyalty and friendship.
The composition is simple and the framing bold. The flowers and vase take up all the space, sharing the canvas equally. The painter takes advantage of the size of the varnished vase to express his material effects. He used vigorous, sculptural brushstrokes to capture the effects of light, while flowers were treated in an impressionistic manner.

A sober, refined and harmonious palette

The young artist uses a refined palette, with subdued colors and a reduced color range. Painted in a cameo of pinkish beige and orange,
the bouquet stands out against a neutral background in keeping with the sobriety of the vase.

Uncluttered and simple

Bouquet support is almost non-existent. No decorum. Impressionist painters do without scenery to emphasize what they simply want to express.
The choice of a simple composition with a sober palette brings a spiritual dimension of great sensitivity to this work.


A precocious painter who died prematurely, Charles Dulac, born in the 11th arrondissement of Paris from a Parisian merchant father and a mother of Alsatian origin, chose to be an artist in his own right. Far from academicism, impressionism or realism, Charles Marie Dulac is one of those artists who want to keep the focus on good painting and drawing technique, but believe that art should express a sensitivity, a vision of the world.

“Dulac was a painter by vocation. From childhood, when he was a dissipated pupil at elementary school, all he could think about was drawing. His taste was not thwarted: he attended the École des Arts décoratifs.”

He started his apprenticeship with an interior decorator, then with a wallpaper company, and finally as a set painter at Jean-Baptiste Lavastre’s studio. He then worked at the Paris Opera and in various theaters.

At the same time, he began to paint for himself, mainly still lifes. He frequented the studios of painters such as Adrien Karbowsky, Ferdinand Humbert, Henri Gervex and Alfred Roll. Later, around 1890, he frequented the studios of Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Eugène Carrière.

But he suffered from lead poisoning due to the use of ceruse during his years as a decorator. He underwent a profound mystical crisis at the age of 24, and his career as an artist was transformed. He had several opportunities to stay at the Pierre-qui-Vire monastery near Vézelay.

Charles Marie Dulac exhibited at the Salon de 1889 and, in 1890, at the Salon des indépendants and the Salon du Champ-de-Mars. He received a good review. He joins the Société de Saint-Jean for the development of Christian art. It’s a fraternity of Christian artists. Henry Cochin was a very active president from 1894, and a close friend of Dulac. He supported him, exhibited him, bought him and had his friends buy his paintings.
Between 1892 and 1894, he flourished in lithography.
All these works were exhibited in 1896 at the avant-garde Le Barc de Boutteville gallery, with a catalog written by Henry Cochin.

From 1896-1897, he stopped exhibiting and traveled to Italy, cultivating his passion for primitive Italian art and treating himself to Mediterranean warmth. He then painted numerous small canvases depicting views of Assisi, Ravenna, Florence, Fiesole… which he sent to friends and family to pay for his trip.

The deterioration in his health and his desire to meet Huysmans led him to return to Paris. He died at his mother’s home on December 29, 1898. He’s only 32!

Huysmans paid him a vibrant tribute.

“Dulac was the mystical hope of contemporary painting.
A posthumous exhibition was organized by his friends and collectors at Ambroise Vollard, in April 1899. The exhibition features some one hundred paintings and lithographs.

Charles Dulac is represented in public collections in France, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, among others.


• In Paris :

. Musée d’Orsay
Institut national d’histoire de l’art: lithograph collection.

– In France

. Avallon; Autun; Beauvais.
. Brest, Musée des Beaux-Arts :
. Gray (Haute-Saône), Baron-Martin museum :
. Reims, Musée des Beaux-Arts

– International

-United States
. New York, Metropolitan Museum
. Cambridge, Harvard Art Museums.
. San Francisco, Museum of Fine Arts.
. Lawrence, Spencer Museum of Art.
. San Francisco, Museum of Fine Arts.
. Cambridge, Harvard Art Museums.

-Canada . Montreal, Musée des Beaux-Arts.

-United Kingdom . Glasgow, National Gallery of Scotland.

-New Zealand .Auckland, Auckland Art Museum

Sources :

Marguillier (Auguste) in the Gazette des beaux-arts of April 1899; Jumeau-Lafond (Jean-David) Les peintres de l’âme (1899); Wikipedia. Creation date: 2108-05-11