Marcel Leprin (1891-1933)
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Marcel Leprin was a French painter born in Cannes, and spent much of his life in Marseilles living the fashionable bohemian lifestyle. Leprin was an orphan, and was said to have been raised by his uncle. He initially began a career in bullfighting at the age of 22 in Barcelona, but did not compete for long.
As a young man, Leprin fought in World War I, and returned to the streets of Paris penniless and virtually hopeless. He was no longer accepted by his wife at this point, and made a meager living by painting decorations for shop owners and bars, as well as painting portraits. He eventually found shelter with metal worker Achille Depoilly while he was on the brink of starvation one cold winter. While telling his sad story to Depoilly, it is said that fellow painter Andre Utter took pity on him and decided to help him get back on his feet. Utter, along with a number of other artists, pooled together and brought Leprin canvas and paints, and helped the artist to establish himself once again. His artistic career was also fairly short lived, as he only truly began painting at the age of 30 and died very young at the age of 42. It is for this reason that Leprin’s oeuvre is considerably smaller than that of many other artists of his era.
While Leprin’s artistic style is hard to classify, one may consider him to be an Expressionist. He generally painted scenes atypical of many French artists of the time, featuring dances at the Moulin Rouge and various Parisian street scenes and country landscapes. He also painted beautiful still life compositions that rivaled those of any other French artist of his era, and sometimes simply signed his work “Leprin” on the front bottom corners of his canvas. He was most likely a self taught artist, but it is also quite possible that he received instruction from Utter or other artists that he became friends with.
Sadly, Leprin may have been touched with madness, like so many other artists of his day. He was said to have shot two bullets into the studio of his benefactor, Utter, as well as to have set fire to himself in the street.
Still wondering about an early 20th century Expressionist or post-Impressionist French painting hanging in your home? Contact us…it could be by Marcel Leprin.