Maximilien Luce’s color lithograph captures the colors of nature

By Daniel Fulco, Ph.D., Agnita M. Stine Schreiber Curator

To mark the conclusion of the special exhibition From the Pages of PAN: Art Nouveau Prints, 1895‒1900 (ending January 29, 2023), we are sharing this print from our collection (currently on view in the lobby corridor). If you visit the museum, be sure to also look for Maximilien Luce’s lithograph, Blast Furnace (from the collection of the Driehaus Museum, Chicago), which is currently on display in the Bowman Gallery as part of the PAN exhibition.


Maximilien Luce (French, 1858–1941)
The Red Rocks, or The Sea at Camaret
(Les Rochers rouges, or La Mer à Camaret), 1895
Color lithograph
12 1/4 x 17 3/8 in.
Collection of Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
Anonymous gift, 2018.7.81

In contrast to his representations of workers, factory life, and wharves, this print exemplifies Maximilen Luce’s passion for unspoiled nature, in this case the rocky coastline of Camaret, Brittany (in western France). Luce beautifully captured both the ragged textures of the rugged cliffs and the sunlight’s reflection off their surface, conveyed by the alternating shades of brown, tan, green, and blue. Below, the calm blue and white surf is visible and seamlessly complements the partly cloudy sky above. The palette and softness of Luce’s lithographic technique are also reminiscent of a watercolor or gouache painting. Unlike Blast Furnace (see below), a print in which large clouds of noxious gases and smoke spew over an industrial wasteland, the air at Camaret is clear, pristine, and bright. This marine scene is truly a world away from the polluted (though beautiful) cityscape found in the later lithograph.

Through his friendship and association with Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, Luce became an important member of the Neo-Impressionist (Pointillist) school of painting. The politically progressive artist, Camille Pissarro, introduced Luce to anarchist ideas espoused by writers and journalists like Jules Christophe, Georges Darien, Félix Fénéon, Jean Grave, and Emile Pouget, and indeed, in 1894, Luce served prison time for his radical political beliefs. Interestingly, Luce was among the most prolific Neo-impressionists, creating thousands of oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, and drawings, as well as over one hundred prints.

This WeekendArt is sponsored by Ms. Beth A. Rishel


Maximilien Luce (French, 1858–1941)
Hochöfen/Blast Furnace, 1898
Color lithograph
10 x 7 in,
Published in PAN IV, Volume 1 (1898)
Collection of the Driehaus Museum, Chicago