Civil status

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Par Stéphane-Jacques Addade

 Alfredo Valente - Bernard Boutet de Monvel circa 1932Although the monograph which I devoted to Bernard Boutet de Monvel appeared some ten years ago now, a number of blunders continue to be published about the artist, particularly as regards his date of birth. As such, it is advisable to put things to rights!
In fact you can still read pretty much everywhere, that he came into this world in 1884. This is wrong! Up till now, to correct this mistake was a waste of time as the auction houses or gallery owners systematically 'corrected' it to 1884, as it appeared to them to be a misprint and simply a spot of inattention by the expert specialising in the artist. Someone that should be trusted!
However, I'm in the habit of checking my sources, which doesn't appear to be the case in the Art professionals 'bible', Le dictionnaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs (The dictionary of painters, sculptors, designers and engravers), commonly referred to as Bénézit after the name of its author, and which is the source of this blunder. It wouldn't be cause for serious concern if it was the only mistake, but unfortunately this isn't the case.


For example, should I simply want the date of birth of Bernard's father, the painter and illustrator Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1850 - 1913), this too is erroneous(1). Contacted recently about how they envisage setting the record straight with their readers, those in charge of the dictionary didn't deem it useful to reply to me.... As such I've rectified matters for them here!



Extract from Bernard Boutet de Monvel’s birth certificate in 1881


Charles - Louis - André - Bernard Boutet de Monvel, as attested to in the birth certificate attached to this article, was born in Paris, on Tuesday 9 August 1881. He came into being at 24, rue de Rivoli, in the flat of his maternal grandfather, who was a teacher of French at the Charlemagne secondary school, situated just a stone's throw away; a flat in which his parents still lived, due to having insufficient income to gain their independence(2).


As such Bernard Boutet de Monvel was born in the same year as Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso and Le déjeuner des canotiers (The boaters' lunch)! It couldn't be any other way, for those familiar with Bernard Boutet de Monvel's immoderate appeal for balance and symmetry. To be born in any other year would surely have been entirely tasteless to him!



(1) As regards this point, I direct the reader back to the article which I devote to Maurice Boutet de Monvel's date of birth on this website. (↑)
(2) On this subject, I invite the reader to refer to the article on Maurice Boutet de Monvel by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, which is published on this website in the section on Maurice Boutet de Monvel. (↑)