Lucien Simon (1861-1945)
belonged to the circle of French painters. He studied in Paris, at Didier and Robert-Fleury’s Académie Julian. He was mainly interested in portrait representations and religious themes. Together with, among others, Charles Cottet and Andrè Dauchez (his cousin, a Breton painter) they formed the “Black School of Painting” – La Bande Noire. They were inspired by Impressionist painting, but used a much darker palette. They depicted views of Brittany, the austerity and religiousness of the daily life of its inhabitants, which Simon had the opportunity to get to know during his first stay in this region of France in 1890 *.

Description of the painting:
The painting is a collective portrait of the painter’s family, on which he also captured his self-portrait. He is listening to the music played by his wife, Jeanne. They are probably in the garden of their house in Brittany, where the couple spent their holidays, because behind them the estuary of the Breton river Odet is visible. By giving the painting the title “Music” the painter gave the composition an allegorical meaning. It is worth comparing “Music” with another painting by Simon, “Painting”, which is in the same room.

The members of the “Black Band” created in Brittany. A region covering the Brittany Peninsula, located in the northwest of France, distinguished not only by its geographical location, but also by its different culture. Painters came here mainly to observe nature and inhabitants. However, this place often became so close to them that they decided to settle there permanently. Their boundless attachment to Brittany was manifested mainly in their work. This was also the case with Lucien Simon.

Two paintings, two collective portraits, undoubtedly inspired by Manet, present allegories of art: “Music” and “Painting”.

At first glance, it would seem that these works are completely different, as suggested by their titles. However, if we look at the figures on both paintings, we can observe their undeniable similarity. The man listening to the violin playing in the allegory of “Music” is the same person who plays the role of the painter on the second representation. The woman playing the instrument has the same features as the mother holding her daughter on her lap on the “Painting” painting. The man is the author of the works himself – Lucien Simon, the woman is his wife Jeanne, the sister of Andre Dauchez, a student of Lucien (you can also see his works in our Gallery). Dauchez, Lucien and the Cottet, whom you know as the creator of “A Sunny Evening in Brittany”, were the founders of the “black school of painting”. Lucien’s wife, whom we see on both representations, was also a painter, although women rarely gained recognition as artists. From the marriage of the Simons, four descendants were born, two of whom also devoted themselves to artistic activities.

However, in addition to the identical figures captured on both canvases, the paintings have something else in common. The Odet river, outlined against the Breton landscape, is outlined. As often portrayed on countless representations as characteristic of Brittany coastal landscapes.