Friday, 26 August 2016

Jules Leray: Paris !

Leray (le Ray), Jules
(Nantes 1875 – 1938 Carnac, Morbihan, Fr.)
Painter and aquatint etcher 

Eglise de la Madeleine, Paris 

While meeting Marcel Baron in Paris last week I discovered another artist signing his prints just with a simple family name: “Leray”. Like Marcel Baron he also visited and choose to depict the well known places and monuments in Paris.
Opera, Paris 
There’s this half a dozen or so aquatint color etchings of Paris that I know of by this artist signing “Leray and in one occasion “Jules”. Assuming in all cases this is indeed Jules Leray the Brittany painter I wonder how this Pont Aven school (follower) landscape painter came to etching Paris’ landmarks. 
Paris, Place Vendôme

Paris, Notre Dame 

Paris, Seine, Bouqinistes 

True, he is also known to have made prints of some other (Brittany) views so I think it  is indeed safe enough assuming he is one and the same artist. For this posting and your enjoyment I "pimped, straightened and cleaned" the usually not too good auction photographs with Photoshop. 

Paris,  Arc de Triomph

I think his color etchings are not particularly good, a bit "frozen and static", second echelon quality, but the way he decorates his Paris streets with people and traffic (cars, buses) is rather charming and moving even.
Paris, Place de la Bastille 

Strangely Jules Leray is not to be found in any Artist Lexicon, and other then the paintings and etchings that came to market he has but one mentioning in the Internet. Also I could not find where he died or is buried.
Paris, Rue des Capucines
Rue des Capucines by Jean Béraud with same kiosk. 

He had since 1890 been a close friend of post-impressionist and very well known Breton (Brittany) painter Henry Moret (Cherbourg 1956 – 1913 Paris).

Moret studied in Paris’ Acedemie and had become a close friend of Paul Gauguin meeting the eccentric painter in Pont Aven in 1888. After seeing Monet’s work Moret turned away from his academic training and started to paint in an impressionist way.

It is said Moret (above) and Leray (below) often set up their painting easels in summer, side by side, and by the end of a days painting “it was all but impossible to distinguish who‘d painted what”. Like Moret, Leray was born in Brittany and both painters exhibited in the Salon des Independants. I have no idea where Jules Leray might has studied. I do know he painted a portrait of his friend, but could not find a picture of it. 

Moret in Egmand aan Zee, Netherlands 1900
Henri Moret visited the Netherlands in 1900, many foreign and French painters did, painting at the coast and staying in Hotel Wanders in picturesque Volendam. In 1931 Jules Leray travelled to Morocco. Moret’s international fame today is much higher then Leray who is more of a local Brittany hero where as Moret’s Brittany impressionist landscapes are collected in the major museums all over the world.

Thoniers, Breton Tuna fishing boats by Leray, signing "Jules" 

Leray’s oil paintings do fetch good prices in auctions but his charming Paris prints can be found in Ebay, charity shops, car boots and flea markets. 

All pictures borrowed freely from the Internet for friendly, educational and non commercial use only.


  1. Bonjour
    Je vous remercie de l’intérêt que vous portez à mon grand-père Jules LE RAY.
    Voici l'information qui vous manque :
    Jules LE RAY est décédé en 1938 à Carnac dans le Morbihan ( France ).
    M. François LE RAY petit fils de Jules LE RAY