Marc Saint Saens Rugs
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Marc Saint-Saens Rugs and Carpets – The noted artist Marc Saint-Saëns (1903-1979) was an influential French expressionist painter and tapestry artist who had a great impact on the way that France produced fine area rugs. A celebrated figure in his own lifetime, Saint-Saëns was responsible in part for the renaissance and rebirth of French tapestry production in the 20th century. Along with Jean Lurçat and Jean Picart Le Doux, Saint-Saëns established the Association of Cartoon Painters for Tapestry. This unique group used gouache to paint cartoons for tapestry production resulting in the fluid and uniquely Parisian lines.
This unique and easily recognizable aesthetic is closely associated with Saint-Saëns and his best known tapestry works, such as “Thésée and the Minotaur.” During his career, Marc Saint-Saëns created an enormous range of designs with abstract, surrealist and pictorial themes, which have been made into carpets, tapestries and public murals. In the middle twentieth century, we saw artists like Saint-Saëns exercise an outsized impact on the prevailing trends and fashions. Surly and undeniably a great giant of twentieth century art and design, Marc Saint-Saëns represents an important development in the production of artistic French rugs.
Pictured above, Le Bouquet, crafted in 1951, stands as one of the quintessential and exemplary French tapestries from the 1950s. This masterpiece pays homage to Marc Saint-Saëns’s profound affinity for capturing the essence of natural landscapes and the charm of pastoral existence.
The history and biography of artist Marcel Leon Saint-Saens
Marcel Léon Saint-Saëns, known as Marc Saint-Saëns (first name adopted around 1925), was born in 1903 into a family of merchants and artisans from the Languedoc region. He was the great-nephew of the composer Camille Saint-Saëns. During his youth, he was the best friend of the poet Pierre Frayssinet, who was his classmate at the Pierre-de-Fermat high school in Toulouse, where he also met André Arbus.
Gifted in drawing, he enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Toulouse in 1920, alongside André Arbus and Joseph Monin. He exhibited at the Salon des artistes français in 1922 and joined the Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1923.
In 1925, he and André Arbus were awarded a silver medal at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes for a dressing table for which he designed the decoration. The same year, he became a member of the Société des artistes méridionaux, which organized an annual salon where he would regularly exhibit.
In 1928, he married Yvonne Ducuing (1908-1999), the daughter of Professor Joseph Ducuing, and they settled in Paris.
From 1930 to 1933, he stayed at the Casa de Velázquez in Madrid after receiving a scholarship.
The creation of a fresco for the reading room of the Toulouse library, completed in 1935, marked the beginning of his career as a decorator for public buildings.
Starting in the 1940s, under the influence of Jean Lurçat, he turned to designing tapestry cartoons, which would become his specialty. Alongside Lurçat, he was involved in founding the Association des peintres cartonniers de tapisserie (APCT) in 1947. He had almost all of his cartoons woven at the Tabard workshop in Aubusson, the capital of tapestry.
After World War II, like many of his close associates, he joined the French Communist Party, although his activism remained moderate.
“The Bouquet,” an internationally acclaimed work by Saint-Saëns. Tapestry woven by the Raymond Picaud workshop in Aubusson.
Between 1946 and 1971, he taught drawing at the École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs in Paris, where the sculptor Pierre Manoli was one of his students.
In 1948, he married Madeleine Billot (1914-2009) after divorcing Yvonne Ducuing.
1951 marked a significant moment of national and international recognition with his masterpieces, the tapestries “Le Serpent de mer rose” and “Le Bouquet” (1951), which was reportedly his favorite work according to his wife.
In September 1960, he signed the Manifeste des 121, titled “Declaration on the Right to Disobedience in the Algerian War.”
In 1975, he returned to live in Toulouse, where he passed away on December 21, 1979