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San Sebastian, Coluche and Courmes ! (Publication No. 4)


Alfred Courmes is shown at Orsay museum, in Paris,

from Sept. 24th, 2013 to Jan. 2nd, 2014, as part of the exhibition



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





Alfred Courmes has done a number of paintings featuring  “San Sebastian”. In the preceding item, you discovered two of them, including the one purchased by theGeorgesPompidouMuseumin 1984.San Sebastianis a pretext to paint naked males in the tradition of artists since the Renacimento.

Here below are some other of these paintings:

34 Saint Sébastien aux fléchettes hui1934263.jpg

                                         “San Sebastian with darts”, 1934 (65 x 54 cm) privately owned. © adagp




35 Saint Sébastien et la Sainte Famille hui1935100.jpg












“San Sebastian and the Holly Family” (trial)       © adag                                                                                      “San Sebastian and the Holly Family”, 1934 (46 x 38cm),  Privately owned  © adagp

Historical background:

st de dos logo.jpg

 Sebastian is believed to be born in the third century in Milano and to have died inRome, as a martyr in 288.He would have been  a soldier and commander of the praetorian guard under Emperor Diocletian. In spite of his duties, he remained a true Catholic and supported San Marco and San Marcello who were then in prison. Feeling dubbed the Emperor Diocletian condemned Sebastian to the arrows pain. He is aimed at by the bows of his soldiers who, being rather fond of their commander, did not aim at his heart. In spite of his wounds, he remained alive, being cared by Santa Irena, the widow of the martyr Castellus. Later on, he shall again challenge the Emperor, accusing him of cruelties towards Christians. The Emperor Diocletian then condemned him to be whipped to death in the gladiators’ circus; his body is then thrown in the Cloaca Maxima, which makes impossible any sort of funerals. It is through dreams thatSan Sebastian shows to Santa Lucia the place of his corpse so that it can be buried according to the Christian practice in Via Appia, next to the Apostles.



3299891319.png “ …As to the “San Sebastian” shown on the lid of a Camembert box, the idea came to me because one day, before starting to paint, I had in hand a nice box of this  cheese that showed the frame of a well disposed countryside, surrounded by a  circle where the association of colours, purple-red, was very pleasing. I said to  myself : here is an existing perfect surrounding for mySan Sebastian. Traditionally, old women come to the rescue of the “Saint martyr”. In my painting  it is the little girl of the Meunier chocolate bars* that soothes the pains of the martyr with her little hands” (*Courmes and advertising will be treated separately  in a special item).   

61 45 % de B.A. hui196139.jpg


                                45% of B.A., 1961  (162 x 130cm) privately owned© adagp

«“This painting was purchased by Coluche at a period where he became notorious in michelmarius.jpgthe years 1976/1977. Coluche was in contact with the manager of the Trigano Gallery where he wanted to buy hyper realistic paintings of Schlosser, Erro …. Once in the shop, he saw this painting of Alfred Courmes, “45% of B.A.” also called “San Sebastian” and he wanted to have it right away. The painting was then hung in the main hall of the house where all invitations and receptions took place, and many VIP of that period were able to admire it. Coluche was very proud  of it, as the painting was liked by his guests and as some of his friends more involved in Art told him that it had been composed verwell, classically and in a picturesque manner. This painting has remained with the family eversince” Expressed by Veronique Colucci, a longstanding friend of Alfred Courmes, 2013.


61 Projet du saint-Sébastien et le rond de fromage min196138.jpg


                                                    Prepatory work for45%,1961.© adagp

The next release will show you portraits of women painted in 1920-1930.


25 Reine Courmes min1925221.jpg

"Reine Courmes", 1925

To know more:

On San Sebastian: Saint Sébastien, le pouvoir de l'image.

45% of B.A. was shown:

-       1961 May exhibition, Paris, from May 7th to May 28th,Amsterdam June and July.

-       1965 Sao Paulo, 8th biannual exhibition, “Surrealism and fantastic Art”.

-       1972 Grand Palais National Galleries, “Twelve years of contemporary art in France” from May 16th to September 18th = Pompidou exhibition;

-       1977-1978 Briance Gallery, from October to November (31 paintings)

-       1989  Museum "la Piscine", Roubaix.

-       1989  Saint Roch Museum, Issoudun.

-       1989  Centre Georges Pompidou Museum, from September 12th to October 22nd ( save on October 5th, due to strike of the Museum staff)

-       2009 Museum of Artand History at l’Isle-Adam, in the exhibition “"voyous-voyants-voyeurs"” headlining Clovis Trouille work


Published books:


-        Jean-Marc Campagne, Alfred Courmes, Prospecteur de mirages entre ciel et chair, photos by Robert Doisneau, Jacqueline Hyde, Marc Vaux, published by Eric Losfeld, 1973, page88.

-        San Sebastian in the art history since the 15th century foreword by François Le Targat, published by Jacques Damase, 1979, pages 169.

-        Vitalie Andriveau – Gilles Bernard, Alfred COURMES, foreword by Michel Onfray published by Le Cherche Midi, 2003, page 126-127. some copies available at the Orsay Museum bookshop.


About the exhibition Masculin-Masculin:


-       Masculin/Masculin, the naked man in art from 1800 to nowadays, catalogue of the exhibition, published byOrsayMuseumand Flammarion


-      The naked man, by Philippe Comar 



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