Maurice Elie Sarthou Biography

Maurice Elie Sarthou




Painter, printmaker, stained-glass maker, and illustrator Maurice Elie Sarthou was born in Bayonne, France, on January 15, 1911. He showed an early interest in art, but after the death of his father in World War I, he was allowed to attend art school only on the condition that he pursue a career in architecture. Upon graduation from high school, he enrolled at the School of Fine Arts in Montpellier on scholarship. There, he studied from 1927 to 1930, before finally being allowed to pursue painting, at which time he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris.  


After the birth of his daughter in 1934 Sarthou began teaching, first in Batista, and then in Bordeaux. His career was put on hold during World War II, when he was a transmissions operator for the French Army from the years 1939 to 1941. In 1943 he joined the Society of Independent Artists, Bordeaux. In this organization he became acquainted with Andre Lhote, Roger Bissiere, and others whose Abstract Expressionist styles greatly influenced him. In 1949 his work was praised by the art critic Jacques Lassaigne at a regional show, and he won the Drouant Prize. He was then invited by art director, journalist, and critic Gaston Diehl to exhibit at the Salon de Mai, in which Sarthou would participate every year until 1963.


In 1950 he was appointed professor of drawing at the Lycée Henri-IV, Paris. This position allowed him to exhibit more broadly and network with collectors and art directors. He would exhibit regularly at the Galerie Guiot and the Autumn Salon, both in Paris, as well as Gallery of Art and Decoration - Montepellier; La Gravure Gallery - Lausanne; Galerie Leandro - Geneva; Galerie des Editions Vialetay - Paris; and many others. By 1958, he had retired entirely from teaching and became a full-time artist.


Sarthou was a multi-faceted artist, and the 1960s and '70s were a particularly creative time. in 1962 he was nominated for participation in the show "Ten French Painters Around Jacques Villon", organized by Jean-Albert Cartier, and which took place at the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy. The following year he was commissioned to design two stained-glass windows for the church of Bouchevilliers, to accompany Villon's own windows in the apse. In 1972 he began filming "Sarthou; or, the Painter of the Elements" with Marc Alyn and Madeleine Attal for FR3 Toulouse. In 1976 he was part of the French delegation for a traveling exhibition in Japan, "Selections from the Paris Autumn Salon - Contemporary Masters: Exhibition Nika-Hai". Sarthou continued to work and exhibit both nationally and internationally into the mid 1990s. He died in Sete on June 11, 1999.


Among his many awards he received the Officer of the Order of Academic Palms, France (1958), and the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters, France (1962). His work is included in the collections of the National Museum of Modern Art (France), the Museum of Modern Art (Paris), The National Library (France), the Museum of Art and History (Switzerland), Stanford University (SF), Princeton University, Cincinnarti Art Museum, the Toulouse-Latrec Museum (France), and the Reattu Museum (France), among others.