The Ravages of War on Rouen, 1944.
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Paul-Jean Anderbouhr

French ( b.1909 - d.2006 )

The Ravages of War on Rouen, 1944.

  • Oil on canvas
  • Signed lower left

Image size 23.2 inches x 28.5 inches ( 59cm x 72.5cm )
Frame size 27.4 inches x 32.5 inches ( 69.5cm x 82.5cm )


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Available for sale from Big Sky Fine Art in the English county of Dorset, this original oil painting is by the French artist Paul-Jean Anderbouhr which dates from 1944. The painting is presented and supplied in a sympathetic contemporary wooden frame (which is shown in these photographs).
The canvas and the painted surface have benefitted from cleaning, restoration and conservation, which was performed on our instruction, supervision and approval.
Two small perforations in the canvas have been repaired. The restoration technique has made the repairs invisible and returned the painting to its former glory for the present day and for the future.
This vintage painting is now in very good condition, defying its age. It wants for nothing and is supplied ready to hang and display.
The painting is signed lower left.

Paul-Jean Anderbouhr was a highly acclaimed French landscape artist, whose beautiful works secured him an enduring international reputation. His works, which combine the subtle tone and moods of the impressionist movement with expressionist qualities of vitality and motion, continue to be appreciated for their sensitivity and are now much sought-after.

Paul-Jean came from a modest family background. He was born in Paris on 23 September 1909. His father was from Lorraine and his mother from Paris. He grew up in Paris between Place Dauphine, where his mother worked in a laundry, and the Bois de Boulogne, where his grandfather was a gardener. In 1924 he joined Révillon Frères, a Parisian luxury goods company, as an apprentice furrier, then practiced sewing with Lucien Lelong. Exposed to such creativity, he began to paint and found that this was where his true talent lay.

Anderbouhr became the pupil of post-impressionist artist Pierre-Gaston Rigaud (1874-1939) and associated with the artists commune at Ternay. He began to exhibit from 1934 and by 1937 was exhibiting at the Salon d’ Automne., where he returned the following year. He thus established himself in the major Paris Salons at quite an early age.

Anderbouhr had his first personal exhibition in 1953 at the prestigious avant-garde Galerie Paul Durand-Ruel, and went on the have an unprecedented 17 one-man exhibitions with them, guaranteeing his place as the master of ‘plein air’ painting.

He also exhibited his work in Germany, Japan, Morocco, England and the United States, namely in Dallas, Palm Beach, New York and Philadelphia.

He became renowned for his Parisian scenes, such as the Place de la Concorde, Sur le Pont des Arts, as well as his African, Italian and Spanish and South Mediterranean landscapes.

After a trip to Morocco Anderbouhr became very fond of north Africa and from 1949 onwards he divided his time between the French Congo and his native France. He died in Casablanca, Morocco on 10 July 2006, aged 96.

© Big Sky Fine Art

This haunting image of Rouen, painted by Jean-Paul Anderbouhr is likely to have been painted plein air, namely outside at the actual scene, as Anderbouhr was well known for this style of work. If this is so, then the artist would have been very moved to see the destruction of almost half of the magnificent city of Rouen.

Rouen is the capital of the Haute-Normandie (Upper Normandy) region in northern France in the department of Seine-Maritime. It lies on the River Seine and is the historic capital city of Normandy. It is famous for being the city where Joan of Arc was killed in the square Vieux-Marché, now the site of the “Eglise Sainte Jeanne d'Arc“. Rouen is also called the city of a hundred bell towers due to the large number of churches.

This painting depicts the city from across the River Seine, looking towards Rouen Cathedral. The Cathedral is a Catholic church, the Notre Dame of Rouen, and the see of the Archbishop of Rouen, Primate of Normandy. It is famous for its three towers, each in a different style, and held the title of the tallest building in the world from 1876 to 1880, until it was surpassed by Cologne Cathedral. It is still considered to be the tallest cathedral in France.

Rouen Cathedral has a distinguished history; it was where the Dukes of Normandy were traditionally crowned, as well as where many of them were buried. Their tombs are still housed in the church today. The most notable is the tomb containing the heart of the former Duke of Normandy and King of England, Richard the Lionheart.

During the Second World War the region, under the stronghold of Nazi occupation, was targeted by the Allies. A fire damaged part of the cathedral’s structural framework in 1940. Then in April 1944 the Allies thoroughly bombarded the city; 6,000 shells rained down from the sky and in total 600 tons of explosive crashed into the city, leaving 1,200 dead. For days the whole city seemed to be on fire and there was a smell of sulphur everywhere. The Parliament building was badly damaged, and the bombings hit the cathedral too. The nave of the cathedral was destroyed and the already weakened edifice struggled to hold up its spire whose columns were ruined. Fires caused the bell towers to fall. Reinforcement work was quickly undertaken to prevent the spire from crumbling onto the rest of the cathedral. The fighting in Rouen ended on August 30, 1944, when the German army retreated.

The immediate aftermath of the intense bombing in April 1944 is captured in this quite amazing painting. We look across the river to the damaged cathedral, the air still thick with smoke and dust. This is a most powerful and forlorn sight, captured with sensitivity and accuracy. This is a significant and truly monumental painting from a young Frenchman who was one of the great talents of his generation.