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Monday, April 16, 2012

French Focus: Three Artists–Part 1

Are these names familiar to you?

Charles Levier
Victor Ferreri
Paul Lambert

Probably not. But they are all French painters (peintre) with whose work I am very fond of.  I am very fortunate to be the guardian of a couple of their original pieces.

I fell in love the first time I laid eyes on this Charles Levier (1920-2003) painting in Belle Maison Antiques in Lexington.  I can’t explain it. It just spoke to me.  It drew me in and I kept coming back to it.  I couldn’t quit starring at it.


The following biography on Charles Levier (aka Maurice Verrier) courtesy of www.banksfineart.com

Levier was born in 1920 to a French father and American mother in Corsica.
From an early age, he held a fascination with color and form that led him, at age seventeen, to the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs for private studies. During World War II, Levier served in the French Army in North Africa, later becoming Liaison Officer with the U.S. Office of Strategic Services.

After the war, Levier divided his time between living in the United States and in France. His first one-man show opened at the Galerie Constantine, in Lyons in 1949, followed by an American debut in Los Angeles in 1950. Levier continued to have gallery shows in both France and the United States.
Levier's works are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Paris and the Menton Museum, Paris. In the United States, his work can be found in the permanent collection of the Atlanta Museum, the Seattle Museum, the Evansville Museum, the New Orleans Museum and the San Diego Museum. His works have been included in the prominent collections of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, Adlai Stevenson, Baron Edmond de Rothschild, Prince and Princess Poniatoski, Mrs. Dan Topping, Mr. and Mrs. Dean Martin and many others.  

I’m in pretty good company don’t ya think?

Several lithographs were also produced from his original work.

And, here is my original oil on canvas Levier as it hangs in my family room.  It’s a good size at 30” X 40”.


My painting is in it’s original frame and the title is “Le Canal” as written on the back by Levier himself.


An old tag on the back of the frame reads, “Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Johnson Art Museum Loan Collection.”  At some point, this painting must have been on loan from a private collection.


Following are some examples of his work at auction.








Levier is most known for his abstracted Post-Impressionistic still lifes and cityscapes of harbor towns and boats. He uses strong black brushstrokes to outline the subject matter.




Levier frequently employed a Cubist technique. Cubism was developed in France in the teens and the 1920s by Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881-1973) and Georges Braque (French, 1882-1963). Several artists, like Levier, continued to paint in the Cubist manner well into the 20th century.


Below is a YouTube video of the artist Charles Levier when he was on the "To Tell the Truth" TV show on October 28, 1963. Charles Levier was one of the most popular artists of the mid century modern movement in the US. Several books were published about him and his works were very popular with the Hollywood set, especially the Rat Pack.

Artist, Charles Levier, 1963

Here is his signature on the lower right-hand side of my painting.


Charles Levier was a favorite artist of Jackie Kennedy who owned some of his works.  I am not entirely sure of this story, but I was told that when Jackie O. passed away, her daughter, Caroline, personally took a couple of the Levier’s before they could be put up for auction.  Pretty cool, huh, if true?

Some books on Amazon about him:
Levier: A Collection of Drawings  1963 (at $850 for this book, I'll pass)
Charles Levier by F.M. Hinkhouse 1961
Charles Levier (a pamphlet): Emile Walter Galleries 1967

Dr. F.M. Hinkhouse of the Phoenix Art Museum has reviewed the work of Levier and describes him as a master of art, conceiving and executing each of his paintings with the assurance that comes from a combination of basic, instinctive talent, good taste, and formidable creative energy.  He is first and foremost a figurative painter, dramatic and expressionistic, definitive yet seductive, yet always subtle with carefully considered colors. 

Stay tuned to Part 2 and the other two French artists for all you art buffs out there!

Happy Art Collecting,

Linking up to:
French Obsession Party at Le Chateau Des Fleurs



How neat that you own an original! Being an artist myself, I feel that each original is a piece of me I give away. You have a piece of him and a piece of history there...very special!

Kim @ Savvy Southern Style said...

Wow, you have a very nice original. Looks great in your home.

Michele M./ Finch Rest said...

Wonderful post and so so interesting!

And BOY did I stroll down memory lane watching To Tell The Truth - I loved that show when a little girl - we always watched it! Seems like yesterday and it is so OLD!!! Hahaha. (Guess I am too now, sheesh!)

So neat.

Olive said...

It is fabulous that you own one of his signed originals.

Maureen Wyatt said...

I can certainly see why that painting drew you in! I can do without a great many things, but art is not one of them. That painting would put a smile on my face every time I entered that room! ~ Maureen

Debbiedoos said...

You are a very lucky gal to have those originals. They truly are beautiful. Thanks for sharing with the newbie party.

thistlewoodfarm said...


That is amazing. I want to whisper the word amazing though because I am a little in awe of such talent. I love it when art speaks so quietly.


Julie Taylor and Danni Greenwalt said...

There is nothing like original art. Love this artist and it looks great in your home.

Unknown said...

I love art :)
Come back next Monday to the French party!

Unknown said...

you are so nice to talk about the paintings of my father " Charles Levier, this way.
i will send you pictures of him in a personnel mail,
i am french, he had me with his french first wife, i am 70 now , all my love to all that love his work.

Unknown said...

you are so nice to talk about the paintings of my father " Charles Levier, this way.
i will send you pictures of him in a personnel mail,
i am french, he had me with his french first wife, i am 70 now , all my love to all that love his work.

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