Jean De Botton 1898-1978


Jean de Botton (1898-1978)

(The photo to the left of is the grandson of Henry Ford, Benson Ford, and Jean de Botton, in front of a mural the artist created for the Ford Collection in Detroit.)  

Jean Isy De Botton was part of the Ecole de Paris or School of Paris, a group of both French and non-French artists living in Paris between the two world wars. He had a long and prolific career as painter, illustrator and muralist. His successful career started in the 1920s and continued for four decades. He received a degree in Philosophy from the Lycée Rollins in Paris he went on to travel extensively and become a well-established artist. De Botton's early paintings display many of the characteristics of the age of Art Deco, incorporating romantic, allegorical, and historical themes with a modern technique. In a career that spanned five decades de Botton’s early work reflected a love of pageantry—perhaps this was the reason he was the only non-British painter officially invited to attend and paint the Coronation of King George VI in 1937—and his late paintings were abstract. Born in France in 1898, Jean de Botton enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1920 to learn fresco painting. On a trip to Spain in 1925 he encountered the art of Zurbaran and El Greco; then on his return to Paris he discovered Cezanne and began an intensive study of Impressionism, Post Impressionism and early 20th century art movements. From 1932 to 1939 de Botton taught at the Academie Montmartre. De Botton participated in the important yearly Paris exhibitions: Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Independants; he was included in the 1934 to 1938 Carnegie Institute Internationals in Pittsburg, Boston and Chicago; and in 1936 he was included in official exhibitions of French art in Tokyo, Brussels and Antwerp. De Botton served on the jury of the Salon d'Automne and was a member of the Salon des Tuileries, Salon des Indépéndants, Salon des Humoristes. He was Vice President of the Salon and President of the Salon France Nouvellle. Solo Exhibitions between 1936 and 1942 include the Marie Harriman Gallery, New York; the Rockefeller Center, New York, Carol Carstairs Gallery; Leger & Co. Gallery, London; Seattle Museum; San Diego Museum; Philadelphia Art Gallery, Grace Gallery, Boston; Galerie du Livre, Casablana; Santa Barbara Museum; Pearl Gallery, Hollywood; Vista del Arroyo, Pasadena; Francis Tayor Gallery, Beverly Hills; Courvoisier Gallery, San Francisco; and the Knoedler & Co. Gallery, New York. In 1925 de Botton exhibited a mural at the Salon d'Honneur des Beaux-Arts, Paris and in 1937 at the Palace of the Navy, Paris. Book illustrations include Les Fleurs du Mal by Baudelair, 1936; Claude by Fauconnier, edition Firenczi; La Maison du Quai by Caston Cherau, edition Firenczi; and a children's book entitled "Fou Fou Discovers America". In 1942 de Botton designed a poster for the California National Guard as well. He delivered a lecture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1941 on the subject of Chiaroscuro and his theory of its detrimental effect on modern painting. In June of 1944 the California Palace of the Legion of Honor held a retrospective de Botton's paintings, frescoes, murals, drawings, tapestries and book illustrations. The same year he had written the ballet; Triumph of Hope, which was performed at the San Francisco Opera House. Museums in Luxembourg, Versailles and Royan have collected his work. In 1938, Jean de Botton traveled with the paintings from the Coronation of King George VI to New York for an exhibition at Rockefeller Center; then he went across the country and added to his growing reputation with one-man shows at museums in Seattle, San Diego and Philadelphia. World War II soon broke out; he was called back to France and sent to Morocco where he fortuitously discovered the Arabian colors that had seduced Matisse. Upon his release from the military he accepted an invitation from President Roosevelt’s mother and Knoedler Galleries to come back to New York for a one-man show that opened in 1942; next he went to California where he exhibited, worked in Hollywood and painted murals. The rest of his life was spent living between Paris and New York. With one foot in the new world and another in the old de Botton was able to remain aloof from art fashions, refine his aesthetic and focus his aspirations. From the 1930’s into the 1950’s his love of the figure and pageantry is present in his art. By the late 1950s de Botton was only painting imaginary landscapes, still lifes and abstracts with elusive, elegant forms. He could finally say he had achieved his own style, something he viewed as the crown of artistic pursuits. De Botton’s paintings were acquired by the Albertina Museum in Vienna, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, Dallas Museum, Dallas, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Musée National d’Art Modern, Paris, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Norton Museum, Palm Beach, San Diego Museum and the Museum Richartz, Cologne.