Lucien Hector Jonas Biography

Lucien Hector Jonas




Lucien Hector Jonas was born on April 8, 1880 in Anzin, France to a family who owned a large distillery. He received his bachelor of letters in June 1898, continuing his studies in Valenciennes with Joseph-Fortuné-Séraphin Layraud and also studying the violin for seven years at the Conservatoire de Valenciennes.

In 1899, he entered the School of Fine Arts in Paris. In 1900, he was finally admitted and, throughout his school years, he began developing a reputation for his work. He became a member of the Society of French Artists in 1901. Around 1902, Jonas also worked in Albert Maignan's studio and the two formed a lifelong friendship.

At the same time, he met Henri Harpignies, who took Jonas on as his protégé, developing in him his attraction for nature, and for painting pleine air. On the death of his father, October 2, 1902, Jonas abandoned the Fine Arts to return to Anzin and, with his mother, helped to manage the family distillery which was later taken on by his brother.

Back in Paris in 1903, he moved to No. 3 rue Lecourbe. In 1904, he took advantage of his stays in Anzin and the vast warehouses of the distillery to paint large compositions, inspired by the life around him. He won a silver medal at the Salon of 1905 and three other prizes - the Chenavard, Trémont and Stillmann awards -  encouraged him even more.

Jonas won the second Grand Prix of Rome in 1905 (the first prize is not awarded that year). In 1907, the king of Siam acquired one of his works, entitled ‘The Rouffions’, and hung it at the royal palace of Bangkok.

On May 2, 1908, Lucien Jonas married Suzanne Bedorez, with whom he had three children: Pierre, Solange (wife of René Guillaume , magistrate) and Jacques. The couple moved to the Boulevard Raspail in Paris.

In February 1915, he was approved as the "Military Painter attached to the Army Museum". From mission to mission, he traveled the front, from Belgium to the Vosges, then he was asked to paint portraits of military leaders, such French (March 15, 1915) and Pershing (August 14, 1917, currently at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York), Foch (the day after his appointment as generalissimo). In total, seven to eight hundred oils, and nearly four thousand drawings reproduced in large numbers in L'Illustration, Annales, Lectures pour tous and in the Allied newspapers.

In 1916, he was named official painter of the French Navy. He also gained success with his murals in the Art Deco style, including in Paris (House of Central) and Valenciennes (City Hall, Chamber of Commerce). In 1926, he was named Rosati d'honneur, in 1929, he was named knight of the Legion of Honor.
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1933 was the beginning of his collaboration with the Bank of France for the creation of banknotes, including the 10 franc Minor and 20 franc Fisherman.

In 1943, he exhibited seventeen major compositions on the life of the Virgin at the Spanish Church in the rue de la Pompe in Paris. In 1945, at the Salon des artistes français, he was awarded the medal of honor for painting a fourteen-meter-long fresco comprising some one hundred and twenty characters, entitled ‘Furor Teutonicus’.


Lucien Hector Jonas died on September 20, 1947 in Paris, France.