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The ex-voto to San Sebastian (Publication No. 2)


Alfred Courmes is shown at Orsay museum, in Paris,

from Sept. 24th to Jan. 2nd, 2014, as part of the exhibition



(two paintings shown:  "Ex-voto à San Sébastien" and "St Sébastien at the waterlock ".)




“The painting of Courmes by excellence, one of the nicest paintings of the twentieth century!”

  Maurice Rapin, 1989

“On the plastic point of view, a vast blue background, an anatomy designed with blacks and white colours, very gently, but adequately, a nice sailor sweater with black and white stripes” 

 Alfred Courmes, 1986 (*)

 35 Ex-voto à Saint Sébastien hui1935271.jpg

 "L'ex-voto to San Sébastien", 1935, oil on canvas (146 x 120 cm) private ownership © adagp

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“What I was much interested to do, is the marble of the column to which he is tied up. The holly Mary is the portrait of my wife. To paint it , I used the Sienna method, with light spreads of green earth, a little white, a little pale red  (detail)  And for the child Jesus, one expected a nice child, which is why I chose the Cadum Baby, who at the time was known and appreciated by everybody "(detail).

259_courmes ex voto à_saint-sebastien puces copier.png

But the Cadum Baby, on the knees of his mother, was getting bored, so I placed in the hands of his holly Mother a horn, an automobile horn making a “pouet-pouet” noise (detail) , bringing smiles on Cadum Baby’s face.San Sebastianis praised to help against plague. Generally, plague is transmitted by rats, and I placed fleas to chase the rats and infect them” …” I worked one year and a half on the subject, with much care, ten square centimeters after ten square centimeters!” Alfred Courmes.  (*)

This work, painted in 1935, shows a concentrate of Alfred Courmes paintings : 

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   “I think that between thirty and thirty five years, a painter concentrates all what he has accumulated, analyzes his own work, must discover what will be called his specificities. But it cannot be defined exhaustedly. One paints, makes drawings, works intensely for the best, and later, while reviewing one’s work, think : that period may be the one where I have painted at the best”. Alfred Courmes. (*) 

One can find in the “Ex-voto toSan Sebastian” most of the subjects that can be found in other paintings. These subjects are shown independently or deeply intricated. "Oedipus and the Sphinx" for example, mixes mythology, history, advertising and erotism. Others deal with religion, humour and protest.



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 “… I consider the “Ex-voto to San Sebastian” as one of my best paintings”.

    Alfred Courmes, 1986. (*) 



You will know more aboutSan Sebastianand about the “San Sebastian” by Courmes by reading the next issue.

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(*): (Extract of talks of1986 inview to publish a book by Soleils Noirs Editor,Project which did not come through)


Painting shown in:


- 1936    Carnegie Institute.Pittsburgh: Cover page of the catalogue, text and image of the  catalogue  and  photograph on wall .

- 1937    “Independents” Exhibition

- 1937    Gallery of fine arts and  Gazette. Paris. 1st show of young artists.

- 1947    Lille. Gallery of the Society. Studies and representation. From 3rd to 25th January.

- 1977    Briance Gallery, from Oct. to Nov.  (31 paintings)

- 1979    Grenoble. PaintingsMuseum. From May 16th to August 20th.

- 1989    RoubaixMuseum. From April 29th to June 11th (extended up to June 25th)

- 1989    Poitiers. From July 3rd to September 4th.

- 1989    GeorgesPompidouMuseum. From Sept 12th to Oct 22nd (save on Oct 5th due to strike of museum   



Among others were presented by reproductions in catalogues, books, newspapers …


-          The naked man, by Philippe Comar (Gallimard)

-           Quotes in the magazine Paris Match


For marine specialists:


“The cruiser shown is the Foch (Suffren class of ships) well recognizable by its three parts mast, she was built at the Brestshipyards, was launched on April 24th, 1929, went in operation in 1931, was voluntarily destroyed in Toulon on Nov 26th, 1942 at 17h30, and thus has never even hurt a fly.” Maurice Rapin, 1989.