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Modern (19th century-1945) Graphic Arts
(Sotteville-les-Rouen, France, May 6, 1901 - January 1, 1988, Paris, France)
One of France's foremost engravers of the twentieth century, Albert Decaris began his formal art studies at the age of fourteen at the Ecole Estienne. Four years later he was accepted into the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and studied in the studios of Carmon and Laguillermie. Within six months Decaris had won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome and became the youngest student ever to win this prestigious honor. Decaris thus journeyed to Rome where he worked and lived at the Villa Medici. Unfortunately he contacted malaria on a journey to Paestum and was critically ill for a period of one year. Upon his recovery Albert Decaris was 'rewarded' with a two year mandatory service in the French military. After this he concluded his fellowship in Rome and then returned to Paris. He first worked upon a series of engravings of Beligian subjects which he submitted to the Paris Salon. These works received the Salon's Medaille d'Argent. It was the first time in the Salon's long history that an artist had received this major medal with his premiere presentation. During the following years Albert Decaris created a major oeuvre of original engravings and etchings, both as individual plates and as illustrations for livres d'artiste. In this latter category he illustrated such magnificent books as Shakespeare's, Macbeth (1930), Cathlin's, Le Sommeil d'Endymion (1934), Milton's, Samson Agonistes (1939), Chenier's, Eglogues (1945), Heriot's, Mythologie des Anciens Grecs et Romains (1955), Emile Henriot, Les Trophees (1967) and Eschyle, Tragedies sous la Direction de Mario Vincent (1975-1977). Between 1935 and 1985 Albert Decaris created more than six hundred stamps for France and its territories. Held in equally high esteem for his architectural, historical, landscape, portrait and figurative engravings, he became a full member of the Academie des Beaux-arts in 1943 and was nominated its President in 1960. In 1962 Decaris was named the official painter of the Marine Francaise.