Marc Mouclier

French, Aigre 1866 - Paris 1948

Marc Mouclier, who grew up in a small town in Southwestern France, arrived in Paris around the time of his eighteenth birthday.  He signed up for art classes at the “Ecole des Beaux Art” and studied under Gustave Boulanger (1824-1888), Jules Lefèbvre (1836-1911) and Luc Olivier Merson (1846-1920).  He seems to have been a pupil for a long time, possibly from 1884 to 1902.  All the while Mouclier also spent time at the less formal “Académie Julian” (founded by Rodolphe Julian, 1839-1907), where he made the acquaintance of artists who were part of the Nabis group (Félix Vallotton, Ker-Xavier Roussel, Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Vuillard).  While he certainly learned painting techniques from Boulanger & Lefèbvre, it is likely that the art of Merson, with its symbolist qualities, influenced him more.  And it is clear that the esthetic promoted by Nabis artists quickly became his primary inspiration.

As early as 1892 Mouclier exhibits with other symbolists at the “Galerie Le Barc de Boutteville” (founded by Louis Léon Lebarc (1837-1897), and which ran from 1891-1899).  In the 1890s he is also a regular contributor to the influential arts magazines “La Critique” and “La Revue Blanche”.  With the help of Alfred Jarry (1873-1907) and the critic Émile Straus (1865-19??) he also created his own publication named “L’Omnibus de Corinthe”, which he personally handwrote, and which seemingly ran for 13 numbers from 1896 to 1899.  At this time Mouclier seems to have been in his element, and living in the thick of the Parisian art scene.  As late as 1903 and 1905 Mouclier exhibits at the “Salon des Indépendants”.  After that time he seems to have mostly removed himself from the active artistic circles in the capital, living a quiet life in Parisian suburbs and in his native country.  Only in the early 1930s did he come out of hiding, showing his work on a couple of occasions.

Beyond the facts mentioned above, little is known about Mouclier’s life, and to this day his art is also not well-known.  No one has ever bothered to catalogue it, and the breath of his output is unclear.  Only a few hard-to-find papers were published by Edmond-Henri Zeiger-Viallet (1895-1994).  Beyond painting, which he seems to have done on canvas as well as paper and board, he was also an illustrator and a printmaker.  He worked in lithography, woodcut and he seems to have etched as well.

Some have claimed that his style evolved, which may be true.  However, it is hard to prove, considering the limited number of dated works available beyond the 1890s.  What is clear is that Mouclier painted in a variety of ways.  Some of his work uses wide flat areas, influenced like many others, by the arrival of Japanese arts in Paris.  Other works, with their patterns, evoke the Nabis tendency towards a more decorative painting style.  In his prints, a tendency towards simplicity and a decorative line prevail.  However, in both print and painting, Mouclier is also able to use a firmer style, expressive in nature.  This is particularly the case in the few woodcuts he made, but also in some oils.

The art of Marc Mouclier clearly remains hard to define.  Only an attempt to catalogue it more systematically will tell us more.  In the meantime, it is worth noting that, while uneven, some of the prints and paintings by this enigmatic artist are of the highest quality.  The lack of understanding of his work should not cloud the judgement of the informed collector.  Marc Mouclier is an artist whose talent is all too often missed.  One should not be fooled.

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