Miranda. A first biography on the painter Henri Montassier

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In possession of a self-portrait, Patrick Laharrague had the project to do a book on this Gers painter.

Patrick Laharrague presented Saturday evening, at the Museum of Fine Arts, his book dedicated to Henri Montassier published by Val d’Adour. The work is entitled “Henri Montassier, painter in Armagnac”.

Having found a self-portrait of the painter on a pitcher, Patrick Laharrague was attracted by this small painting, there was a “thing in this portrait”. Then he met the legatee of the family of the painter Henri Montassier and it was from there that he had the project to produce a book on this painter, his painting and his history.

Henri Montassier (1880-1946) left his native Burgundy at the age of 21 for Paris, according to the wishes of his notary father, to do his law there. But the young man, artist at heart, talented draftsman, has a completely different desire: to live from his passion. He became a pupil of Luc-Olivier Merson and lived intensely in the whirlwind of Montmartre among his painter and artist friends, Dorgelès, Poulbot, Mac Orlan, Drouart and so many others. In 1907, his first canvas was selected for the Salon des artistes français and in 1912 he had his first personal exhibition at the Reitlinger gallery.

From then on, Henri Montassier chained exhibitions. He quickly knows honors and fame. His classic painting is selling well. The state of his lungs making him unfit for the army, he participated in his own way in the war effort, illustrating the magazines read at the front and propaganda posters. In 1918, he married Céline, the love of his life. But the skies clouded over at the end of the 1930s because Céline was of Jewish origin. Soon, it’s the exodus, the end of happy days, the end of his life as a recognized Parisian artist. He withdraws with his family to his house in the Gers, in Artigau, a hamlet in the middle of Armagnac. Montassier is convinced that the Marshal will save France and protect the Jews. During this time, the young people of his in-laws enlisted in Free France and the interior Resistance… From 1942, the illusions of this tired and reclusive man began to melt.

Based on a rigorous analysis of the press of the time, family testimonies and the diary written by the artist in Artigau, Patrick Laharrague takes us into the intimacy of Henri Montassier, his doubts and his torments. It reveals to us the part of man in the face of creation and history. A first biography on the Gers painter Henri Montassier, a very talented artist in oil painting, watercolor, fresco, poster, drawing and illustrated book, but not only. He was also a caricaturist for satirical newspapers and an illustrator for “general public” magazines and advertising.

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