Painter, graphic artist, engraver and illustrator

Jean Émile Laboureur was born in Nantes in 1877.

In 1895 he attended the Académie Julian in Paris.

From 1899 to 1910 he lived in Germany, the USA and Britain.

He came back to Paris in 1912.

In 1923 he organized Les Peintres-Graveurs Independants.

Died in Pénestin, France, in 1943.


Detailed Biography:

Jean-Emile Laboureur was born into the family of a wholesale haberdashery trader on August 16, 1877.

In 1895, when he had received his school certificate, he refused to continue his education at the St. Sauveur Institute and his parents permitted him to go to Paris on the condition that he trained to obtain a license for practicing law.

In 1896 the young student, who had no interest in anything but art, started attending the prestigious Académie Julian. His sponsor, the Nantes industrialist and collector Alphonse Lotz-Brissonneau, introduced him to the engraver Auguste Lepère, who taught the young man the art of engraving and wood-carving. His first etching was done in August.

In late 1896 – early1897 Laboureur met Toulouse-Lautrec, who greatly influenced the young artist and, in his own words, opened his eyes. Laboureur did his first lithographs as Toulouse-Lautrec watched on.

In 1897 Laboureur was first recognized for his wood etching Au Luxembourg (At the Luxembourg Gardens).

In 1898 the artist experimented with different techniques, including multiple-color printing from plates.

In 1898-9 Laboureur served in the Army in the Nantes region (students were drafted for one year instead of the regular three). Afterwards he dropped his legal studies and opted for a degree in literature and linguistics in Germany.

1899-1900 – stayed in Germany, mostly in Dresden, studying at the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings

1900-1 – studies in Berlin.

1901-2 – lives in Munich and frequents the cabaret des Onze-Bourreaux.

1902 – in April fails exams at the University.

1902-3 – goes back to Nantes and makes another unsuccessful attempt to pass graduation exams at the University of Rennes. Fearing to lose his student status and to have to continue military service on common grounds, Laboureur decides to go to the USA.

1903 – December 6 arrives in New York and visits Philadelphia.

1904 – In January Laboureur moves to Pittsburg. In February he for the first time takes part in an exhibition together with an American artist. He takes up etching and from October attends courses at the Art Students League.

1905-7 – makes several cycles of etchings, participates in art life, travels around the USA and Canada, and takes up painting.

1908 – more travels across the USA and Canada. Laboureur goes back to France, because he is past draft age and cannot be legally drafted. In November he visits London, where he again meets Lepère and spends much time with him.

1909 – in April Laboureur returns to Paris and then to Nantes. He is among the ten winners of the National Society of Fine Arts contest for a travel grant (4000 francs). In November-December he visits Greece, where he studies ancient vase painting. Laboureur sees his first catalogue published.

1910 – January-March visits Turkey and once again Greece. His exhibition is held in Munich in May. Laboureur goes on a journey to Italy.

1911 – lives and works in Paris and Nantes alternately.

1912 – in January an exhibition of grant holders is staged at the Grand Palais. Laboureur finally settles in Paris, and in summer Guillaume Apollinaire introduces him to the artist Marie Laurencin, who becomes his close friend. Laboureur begins to change his trademark style under the impact of Cubism.

1913 – gets first government commission for Le Rond-Point des Champs-Élysée and executes the first plates in Cubist style.

1914 – holds his first major exhibition at André Groult’s in Paris. In September he is mobilized into the British Army as an interpreter.

1917 – assigned to the American Army for troops convoy between the American base at Saint-Nazaire and the front.

1918 – transferred to the War Museum.

1919 – London exhibition opens in February; demobilized on February 14. On April 10 the artist marries and with his wife Susanne goes on a honeymoon to London.

1920 – does war engraving cycles.

1922 – his Brussels exhibition opens on December 23.

1923 – founds a groups of Peintres-Graveurs Indépendants, who hold their first exhibition on March 17-31. November-December involved in the so-called “Foreigners’ Case”, in which Laboureur plays a significant part in orchestrating protests against a Salon des Independants section to be attended by non-French artists. He drafts a petition that would be signed by Gromaire, Kisling and Chagall.

1929 – becomes President of the Independent French Art Committee, devotes much time to book illustration

1931 – together with A. Brouet, represents French engravings at the Venice Biennale.

1932 – in November inaugurates Fine Arts courses, together with Marie Laurencin.

1934 – material problems force Laboureur to sell his library.

1935 – April 6 wins Prix de Gravure, founded by the Society of French Engraver Artists.

1937 – Vice President of the engraving and print section at the International Exhibition, polygraphie exhibitor and art books jury member

1938 – takes part in the foundation of the Comité National de la gravure française. December 21- first stroke.

1942 – prepares an exhibition at Le Garrec-Sagot; October 10, on the order of the occupation authorities, evacuated from Pénestin (where he had bought a plot of land in 1926) to neighboring Kerfalher.

1943 – dies on June 16.