A painter, lithographer and draftsman, Maximilien Luce
(French, 1858–1941) was born into a poor family in Paris on March 13, 1858. After initial training as a wood carver at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, he began to study engraving in 1872, and took evening courses to deepen his knowledge. In 1876, he entered the shop of the engraver Eugène Froment
(French, 1844–1900), with whom he traveled to London in 1877. After his return to Paris in 1879, Luce began a four-year military service. During his service, and later, through 1885, he studied at the Académie Suisse and in the studio of Carolus-Duran
(French, 1837–1917) at the École des Beaux-Arts, with his paintings displaying impressionistic influences. In the 1880s, he met and established friendly contacts with many Parisian painters, including Camille Pissarro
(French, 1830–1903), Georges Seurat
(French, 1859–1891) and Paul Signac
(French, 1863–1935). Luce, along with these well-known artists, became the founders of Neo-Impressionism (Pointillism).
Through Pissarro, Luce came under the influence of anarchist ideas, and formed friendships with the anarchist writers and journalists Jules Christophe, Jean Grave, Georges Darien, and Emile Pouget. In 1894, he became involved in the Trial of the Thirty, and served a short term of imprisonment.
Until 1904, Luce lived in Montmartre, the streets of which appeared in many of his works. Between 1904 and 1924, he lived in Auteuil, then moved back to Paris. Apart from street scenes, factories, and wharfs, he painted numerous landscapes on his travels through the Etampes, Normandy, and Brittany. During the First World War, he also painted war scenes, including portraits of wounded and homecoming soldiers. In 1934, Maximilien Luce was elected president of the Société des Artistes Indépendants after Signac’s retirement, but soon resigned in a protest against the society''''s policy to restrict the admission of Jewish artists.
Luce died in Paris in 1941.