The Frenchman Louis Favre (1891-1956) was literally and figuratively a colourful artist.
He was educated as a land surveyor but, at a young age, he left for Paris to become a painter. In the twenties, he discovered the old technique of Egyptian wax paint after many lengthy experiments. He would have been pleased to teach this labour-intensive technique to others, but due to a general lack of interest at the time, he ultimately took this ‘secret’ with him when he died. Besides being active in the domain of the visual arts, he was also busy in other fields. For example, he was engaged in radio technology in the thirties, and wrote a radio play, a number of fairytales, and a detective novel. He made various study trips to North Africa.
In 1946, Favre decided to abandon painting and to devote all his energy to lithography in order to make ‘original’ works of art for a broad public. His first exhibitions with lithographs in Vienna and Berlin were almost immediately sold out. From 1947 onward, he illustrated bibliophile publications of Edgar Allen Poe’s stories and Arthur Rimbaud’s poems for the Stols and Mouton & Co publishing companies that were based in The Hague. He married a Dutch woman.
Favre’s work was highly appreciated in the Netherlands. Pierre Janssen (the renowned Dutch art critic) praised him as being one of the first to rehabilitate the discarded technique of lithography, and the critic Jos de Gruyter (the later director of the Groninger Museum) wrote about him in Het Vaderland: ‘His colours are just as rich as those of a Gothic church window.’ In 1993, Louis Favre’s widow donated a collection of his lithographs and several drawings to the Groninger Museum. A large selection of these is on display here.