French Symbolist painter, mystic and philosopher Maurice Chabas (1862-1947) By Dr. Myriam de Palma

“French Symbolist painter Maurice Chabas came from a family of painters, including brother Paul Chabas. Maurice Chabas was born on September 26th 1862, in Nantes, in a cultured and scholarly family. The eldest boy, according to the customs of the time, Chabas took over the family business as an adult despite the fact that he was interested in painting. His two younger brothers, Maurice and Paul were also interested in painting and were encouraged by their father, who was also fond of painting. His brothers attended the Academie Julien and became famous, and this fact stuck with him until the day he died.

In 1900, he moved to 3, Villa Sainte-Foy in Neuilly-sur-Seine. His studio soon became a meeting place attended by distinguished scholars like Maurice Maeterlinck, Edouard Schuré, Léon Bloy, the sociologist Lucien Lévy-Brulh, Professor Charles Richet, Camille Flammarion, Joséphin Péladan and René Guénon. Chabas did not find much success until 1900, when he quickly gained notoriety in art circles.

Chabas would use philosophy and mysticism to create his Symbolist compositions, along with his academic training. He studied under Bouguereau and Robert-Fleury, and never gave much consideration to one style of painting or another. Throughout his whole career, this mystical artist endeavoured to transmit, via his art, his spiritual convictions and especially his belief in the survival of the soul after the death of the body.

He would then abandon all references to reality. This efflorescence of styles is particularly due to the intimate relationship he established between artistic expression and his spiritual aspirations, while refusing to comply to a simply formalist vision of art. To him, shapes were merely a vector of his spiritual message; and by diversifying their appearances, Chabas strived at transmitting the multiplicity of shapes in which the divine appears.

His paintings displayed a more and more ethereal, bright and colorful non-figurative and abstracted world, which naturally expressed the communication of the mysteries of religion. It is in Versailles, where he had decided to retire, that François Mauriac wrote to him “You have understood the necessity of forgetting yourself in contemplation.” He died on December 11, 1947. “

Space and Matter, Maurice Chabas, 1909
Space and Matter, Maurice Chabas, 1909
Chabas_Eclipse Maurice Chabas (1862-1947) L_Eclipse ou Les Neuf sphères
Maurice Chabas – The Eclipse or the 9 spheres
Maurice Chabas - Swirl
Maurice Chabas – Swirl