|Ranson, Paul Sérusier and Marie-France
Ranson in Ranson's studio
The son of a successful local politician, Ranson
was encouraged from the outset in his artistic ambitions. He studied
at the Ecoles des Arts Décoratifs in Limoges and Paris
but transferred in 1886 to the Académie Julian. There he
met Paul Sérusier and in 1888 became one of the original
members of the group known as the Nabis.
|La cueillette des Pommes, 1895
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes
From 1890 onwards, Ranson and his wife France
hosted Saturday afternoon meetings of the Nabis in their apartment
in the Boulevard du Montparnasse, jokingly referred to as Le
Temple. Ranson acted as linchpin for the sometimes dispersed
group. Noted for his enthusiasm and wit and for his keen interests
in philosophy, theosophy and theatre, he brought an element of
esoteric ritual to their activities. For example he introduced
the secret Nabi language and the nicknames used familiarly within
the group. He also constructed a puppet theatre in his studio
for which he wrote plays that were performed by the Nabis before
a discerning public of writers and politicians.
|Le petit Poucet, 1900
Musée de l'Evêché, Limoges
Ransons work showed a consistent commitment
to the decorative arts: like Maillol he made designs for tapestry,
some of which were executed by his wife. His linear, sinuous style,
seen in works such as Woman Standing beside a Balustrade with
a Poodle (Altschul priv. col., see Post-Impressionism, exh. cat.,
London, RA, 1979, p. 119), had strong affinities with Japanese
prints and with contemporary developments in Art Nouveau design;
it was a style suited to a variety of media, stained glass, lithography,
ceramics or tapestry.
Ranson tended to favour exotic, symbolic or quasi-religious
motifs rather than subjects observed from nature. In his Nabi
Landscape of 1890 (Lausanne, Josefowitz priv. col., see P. Jullian,
The Symbolists, London, 1973, no. 174), for example, he sets a
variety of obscure feminine symbols within a fantasy landscape.
After his early death in 1909 his wife continued to run the Académie
Ranson, which they had opened in 1908 to disseminate Nabi aesthetic
ideas and techniques to a younger generation. Teaching was undertaken
on a voluntary basis by other Nabis, especially Denis and Sérusier.
|la Légende de l'Ermite ou la
Tentation de saint Antoine, 1900
Musée du Prieuré, Saint-Germain-en-Laye
- A. Humbert: Les Nabis et leur époque
C. Chassé: Les Nabis et leur époque (Paris, 1960;
Eng. trans., 1969), pp. 1712
Neo-Impressionists and Nabis in the Collection of Arthur G.
Altschul (exh. cat., New Haven, CT, Yale U. A.G., 1965), pp.
© Oxford University Press 2004 - Belinda Thomson 'Paul Ranson',
The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, (Oxford University Press,
Accessed October 28th, 2004), <http://www.groveart.com>