Maurice-Henri Gaudefroy was an acclaimed French artist working in Paris in the first half of the twentieth century. During the 1920’s he attended the Académie Colarossi on rue de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, where he painted in a Cubist style. He befriended Modigliani, Henri Laurens, and the Dutch artist Jean Van Donghen. It was at Van Donghen’s house that regular meetings of the avant-garde were held and to which Picasso and Braque attended. He also frequented the famous “Rotonde” and “Dome” cafés that became centres for artistic debate, the volatile think-tanks of Monparnasse. From 1926 Gaudefroy exhibited at the Salon des Superindépendants, and Salon des Tuileries, where he attracted the attention of several influential critics including Christian Zervos, F. Teriade, and Maurice Raynal. His style was evolving into a more abstracted, less analytical form of Cubism, that instilled his compositions with greater autonomy from their subject matter, and had affinities with Léopold Survage, Georges Valmier, and André Lhote. In 1931 he held his a solo exhibition at Galerie Percier on rue La Boétie which was highly successful and lead to a nomination for the prestigious “Grand Prix du Peinture” the following year. Further exhibitions ensued and despite the artist’s extreme reluctance to promote his work, he could not avoid the acclaim that it continued to attract. In the 1960’s under the instruction of the legendary culture minister André Malraux several of Gaudefroy’s works were acquired for the nation, and a retrospective organised by the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
In the words of a contemporary critic: “If we are to classify the work of Gaudefroy by drawing relationships it is of Braque and Picasso that one has to think, but this resemblance is mainly in the form, in the external presentation, if you like, of the painting. In reality his paintings reveal purely his own talent. The earliest works of Gaudefroy are painted in extremely fine tones that contrast totally with those favoured by Braque. With Gaudefroy the object maintains its reality, but this reality never leads to vulgar naturalism. For, however real they are, Gaudefroy’s objects still display an abstract quality in the way they are composed and handled pictorially. The recent works of Gaudefroy show an almost total liberation from Cubism, both in the forms as in the use of colour. The drawing seems less severe and the colour tones, even though they are discreet, are nevertheless of a remarkable intensity. The overall impression one gets from Gaudefroy’s oeuvre is that of a sophisticated and distinguished artist.” (Cahiers d’Art, 1931, no.2.).