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JACQUES VILLON (France, Normandy, Eure, Damville 1875-1963 / act: Paris)

Jacques Villon French painter, printmaker and illustrator, Jacques Villon was born Gaston Duchamp on 31 July 1875 in Normandy, France. He was one of six children, four of which would receive acclaim as artists and sculptors in their lifetime - including Raymond Duchamp-Villon and Marcel Duchamp, he learnt engraving at the age of 16 from his maternal grandfather, Emile-Frédéric Nicolle (1830-1894), a ship-broker who was also a much appreciated amateur artist.

In January 1894, having completed his studies at the Lycée Corneille in Rouen, Jacques Villon was sent to study at the Faculty of Law of the University of Paris, but within a year he was devoting most of his time to art, already contributing lithographs to Parisian illustrated newspapers, such as Assiette au Beurre. At this time he chose his pseudonym 'Jack' (subsequently 'Jacques') in homage to Alphonse Daudet's novel Jack (1876) and Villon in appreciation of the 15th century French poet François Villon; soon afterwards this new surname was combined with the family name by Raymond. Marcel Duchamp and their sister Suzanne Duchamp (1889-1963), also a painter, retained the original name. Villon's work as a humorous illustrator dominated the first ten years of his career, but from 1899 he also began to make serious prints, exhibiting some for the first time in 1901 at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His printmaking style was formerly influenced by Toulouse-Lautrec. By 1903 he had sufficient reputation in Paris to be an organizer of the first Salon d' Automne. He consciously began to expand his media in 1904, studying painting at the Académie Julian and working in a Neo-Impressionist manner. Jacques Villon became quite famous and well received throughout America and Europe and from the 1940s he was exclusively represented by the Galerie Louis Carre. He received honors at various international exhibitions, including first prize at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in 1950.

Jacques Villon died on 9 June 1963, at the age of eighty-seven, in Puteaux, France.

[Megakles Rogakos 01/2008]

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
MORELAND, CARL & BANNISTER, DAVID Christie's Collectors Guides: Antique Maps 1986 Phaidon-Cristie's, Oxford, p.112

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