Alice MEJEAN (1900-1988), “Woman of Saint Louis of Senegal-1933”, charcoal and pastel



What I like

I love this three-quarter portrait of a woman from Saint Louis, with a beautiful pensive expression, her hair and neck richly adorned with yellow, red, white and blue ornaments and necklaces. I like the simple brown-black drape which highlights the work of the different charcoal browns constructing the face, just enhanced with the blue of the lips and eyelids.

I also like this science of composition which introduces an artistically off-centered gold creole.

I love the quality, the life that emanates from this work: unfortunately, the work of Alice Méjean has not yet been rediscovered; but this charcoal and pastel so full of empathy made her rank from the outset among the pioneering women artists who went to work abroad, firstly in North Africa since Henriette Browne around 1860!, until Marie Lucas-Robiquet, Andrée Karpelès, Jeanne Thil; then in equatorial Africa, less explored, with the very fine example of Marcelle Ackein, Anna Quinquaud who drew and sculpted, Monique Cras…But also in Asia: we obviously think of Alix Aymé, or Léa Lafugie!

At the time Saint Louis, at the mouth of the Senegal River, was still the bustling capital, with prominent monuments: the Faidherbe bridge built in 1865 by Gustave Eiffel, the Governor’s palace, the neo-classical cathedral…In 1930, it Jean Mermoz flew from Saint Louis to create the first non-stop postal connection to Natale in Brazil!

Certainly, Alice Méjean does not depict here a woman from an isolated tribe in the difficult to access countryside, but the early dating, 1933, is proof of her open-mindedness. Perhaps she is the wife of an officer or a colonial dignitary, although the civil status does not mention a husband.

Technical description

Alice MEJEAN (1900-1988)

Woman of Saint Louis of Senegal – 1933

Charcoal and pastel signed, located Saint Louis and dated 2/33

At sight: 47 x 30 cm

Marginal foxing, tiny loss at the top of the sheet near the frame.

Solid exotic wood frame formed by four slightly oblique bands.

Dimensions and weight

Height: 47 cm – Width: 30 cm – Depth: 2 cm

Frame: Height: 59.5 cm – Width: 42.5 cm – Depth: 2.5 cm

Weight:3 kg

Mix & Match

This work in charcoal and pastel by Alice Méjean is a completed work, very well executed, where the different browns of the charcoal are enhanced with strong colored accents in pastel. She expresses empathy towards the model and is anything but a colonial cliché.

As a result, it will light up the wall where you want to place it.

As for me, I see this young Senegalese looking with interest at the office of the Banque de France, whose shimmer of walnut will echo the range of charcoal, but also the Adirondack armchairs by Philippe Parent, which are certainly green but also recall certain so-called armchairs of planter… Of course, the coffee table by Julien de Covemaeker would happily add its highly refined black and gold range.

But why not opt ​​for more neutral furniture with pure lines? I am thinking of Gae Aulenti’s Orsay living room, so white, or of Pierre Guariche’s G10 armchairs, in blue or off-white, whose taut lines will take center stage in our interesting portrait.

In a pseudo-colonial spirit, we can also use the pair of North African cubic armchairs, with geometric sculptures.

In a completely different spirit, we can happily use the Lodovico Acerbis bar table, whose smoked glass and brushed or chrome metal offer a compatible palette.

On the walls, how could we not make a connection with Enrico Cervelli’s gouache “Africano N1- Roma 1961”? The way of treating the subject is entirely different, but each time the artist has put all his integrity into his work!

Our African beauty will rub shoulders with pleasure with the muted palette of André Bourdil’s Abstraction, although later, but also, why not, the representation of another elsewhere, this one distant in time, the Tour Magne in Nîmes ?

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To know more

The painter

Alice Méjean, who are you? There is only one Alice Méjean whose dates make possible the creation of this unique and innovative work. Clearly, this is not an amateur, the work is too beautiful and innovative. This direct way of showing this woman from another culture, without being condescending at any time, is that of a great artist, of whom I hope that the archives will reveal more to us.

And indeed, we were able to find in the Figaro of June 21, 1931 the following mention:

The Alice Méjean Exhibition “The sensitivity which does not exclude robust ardor, absolute frankness, probity, a profession, sure of itself, things springing forth in a single jet, like flowers. This is what Léo Larguier says about the Alice Méjean exhibition, at the Galerie Barreiro, 30, rue de Seine. »

It is interesting to note the use of charcoal and pastel, faster and easier to transport than oil: these techniques are also used by Alexandre Iacovleff, Paul Jouve, Zinaïda Serebriakova and many others. It is clear that Alice Méjean excels at it.

Perhaps she is one of those women who acquired a certain financial independence by teaching drawing in schools? Which allowed them to go in pursuit of their dreams sometimes. What a joy to know that she had succeeded in exhibiting!

We believe that other works will resurface and consolidate his place among the great Africanist artists!

A beautiful and authentic artwork at a fair price

This portrait “Woman of Saint Louis of Senegal-1933” was carefully selected for its aesthetic qualities, its originality and its fair price. Our choice favors above all the quality of this work, with the perfect but modern technique, combined with the originality of its subject during its creation, guarantees of an enhancement of your new acquisition in your interior and an ability to dialogue with your furniture, to match and mix to create a unique decoration.

Buying works of art from the 1930s, especially Africanist ones, is surely a reasonable investment, such is the appetite for these years and these subjects.

Finally, buying works of art from 1930 preserves the resources of planet Earth.

Additional information
Weight 3 kg
Dimensions 42,5 × 59,5 cm




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Dominique de Paillerets is passionate about objects and art. He likes to combine Design furniture from the 70s and the 18th century, in the spirit Combining refinement and the spirit of the seventies

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