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Paul Lucien Maze (1887-1979) - The Buckingham Palace Balcony, Coronation Day, 1953
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Paul Lucien Maze (1887-1979) - The Buckingham Palace Balcony, Coronation Day, 1953

Measurements: Overall: 54cm (21.25in) x 47cm (18.5in)

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Oil on canvas. Signed lower left ‘Paul Maze’. Image size; 27.5cm (10.75in) x 35.5cm (14in).

Paul Lucien Maze (1887-1979) - ‘The last of the Post Impressionists’ - was appointed an Official Artist for the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Hitherto he had painted the funeral of George VI. On both occasions he was given use of a specially erected stand that allowed a unique perspective above the crowds. At the annual of Trooping the Colour he was often to be seen, a lone figure at an easel at Horse Guards. Aside from depictions of the ceremonial duties of the Household Division, he was noted for his quintessentially English scenes that included prestige sporting events, such as sailing off Cowes and racing at Goodwood.

Maze served with great distinction in the First World War and met Winston Churchill on the Western Front. Their shared interest in painting led to a lifelong friendship, and to Maze becoming Churchill’s artistic mentor. Churchill's daughter, Lady Soames, remembered Maze as the 'Cher Maître', and as a regular visitor to Chartwell. Writing from Chartwell before the Second War, Churchill described Maze as ‘an artist of whose keen eye and nimble pencil record impression with a revealing fidelity.’ Such facility to record the events with this distinctive immediacy led another admirer to describe his work as ‘pictures done in shorthand’.


Maze was the son of a successful Normandy tea merchant and art collector whose circle of artistic friends included Claude Monet, Raoul Dufy, Camille Pissarro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Maze learnt the fundamentals of painting from Pissarro and sketched with Dufy. He was educated in England and spent several years working in the family business at Hamburg and Liverpool, before moving to Canada for a year. He then had a brief stint as a sailor. Maze returned to France in 1914 and attempted to join the French army but was deemed unfit. Determined to serve in any capacity he offered his services as an interpreter to the Royal Scots Greys as they disembarked at Le Harve. A few weeks later during the retreat from Mons, Maze became separated from the Greys and was taken prisoner by another British unit. Maze's position with the Royal Scots Greys was unofficial and his lack of documentation and his odd uniform led the British to think he was a spy. Maze was summarily sentenced to death. On his way to face the firing squad, Maze was recognised by an officer from the Greys who happened to be passing and who quickly secured his release.

Maze joined the staff of General Hubert Gough, initially as a liaison officer and interpreter but increasing as a military draughtsman undertaking reconnaissance work. Maze would go to advanced positions, often forward of the British trenches, to produce accurate drawings of enemy positions and other military objectives. The work was very dangerous and Maze was thrice wounded and awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal, Croix de Guerre and Légion d'Honneur. His book, A Frenchman in Khaki (1934), details his experiences. Churchill wrote the foreword.

In 1920 Maze immersed himself in the Parisian art scene. Friends included André Derain, André Dunoyer de Segonzac, Pierre Bonnard and in particular Édouard Vuillard. He moved to London in 1921 and began to paint the scenes for which he is best known. In 1939, Maze had his first exhibition in New York and once again Churchill wrote the  in the foreword to the catalogue - ‘His great knowledge of painting and draughtsmanship have enabled him to perfect his remarkable gift. With the fewest of strokes, he can create an impression at once true and beautiful. Here is no toiling seeker after preconceived effects, but a vivid and powerful interpreter to us of the forces and harmony of Nature’.
 
During the Second World War, Maze commanded a Home Guard battalion and spent a year overseas as a personal Staff Officer to Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris. In 1950 he settled in West Sussex and turned increasingly to nature for his inspiration. In 1952 Maze was given a one-man exhibition at the Wildenstein Gallery in New York. Wildenstein’s in London held a major retrospective focussing on his work depicting military pageantry in 1973 entitled 'Paul Maze and the Guards'.  His works are in many major galleries including The Tate, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, and in private collections worldwide.
 

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