Ink and wash on paper by Paul Maze DCM MM (1887-1979)
Often called the last of the Impressionists, Maze had a reputation as one of the great artists of his generation. He was born in 1887 into an artistic circle in Le Havre, where the young Maze learned the rudiments of painting from family friends that included Renoir, Monet, Dufy and Pissarro. His father, a tea merchant, sent him to school in Southampton where he began a life long love affair with all things English. On the outbreak of War, the sight of the Scots Greys disembarking at Le Havre inspired him to sign up immediately as their interpreter. A brave and highly decorated soldier, Maze was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal and bar; he sketched continually throughout the Great War, his pencil and paper never far from his bayonet.
During this time he encountered Winston Churchill and a mutual interest in painting led to a lifelong friendship, often with Maze acting as Winston’s artistic mentor. Writing from Chartwell before the Second War Winston described Maze as “an artist of whose keen eye and nimble pencil record impression with a revealing fidelity.” This facility to record the events of his life wherever and whatever they were with distinctive immediacy led a British tommy to describe his work as “pictures done in shorthand”.
Maze immortalized the English Season in art: Goodwood, Trooping the Colour, Henley Eights and Cowes Week where he was a familiar figure on the Squadron steps shrouded in tweed coats and a large hat, whatever the weather.
Maze exhibited at a number of major commercial art galleries in London, Paris and America. In London he had shows at Marlborough and a major retrospective ‘Paul Maze & The Guards’ at Wildenstein in 1973.
Maze’s fascinating life was reviewed in Anne Singer’s biography ‘Paul Maze – the Lost Impressionist’.