Saturday, 6 April 2013

DECARIS, Albert

From a young age, it was clear that the Frenchman Albert Decaris (1901-1988) would become an important artist. At the tender age of 19 he had already won the coveted Prix de Rome, at that time the youngest ever to win this prize. When in Italy, he was known as the monk engraver, for he perfected his art by practising 15 to 16 hours a day! Although hampered by severe illness and military service, his stay in Italy would leave an everlasting impact on Decaris, reflected in his style and his love for Greco-Roman mythology.

Back in France, Decaris soon made a name for himself as a book illustrator, with French President Charles de Gaulle admiring Decaris’ work so much that the president wanted no-one but Decaris to illustrate his book ‘Le fil de l'épée’ (The edge of the sword).

In  the 1930s, Albert Decaris took to stamp engraving and designing. His work was admired so much that he was able to create more than 600 stamps for France and its former colonies. Add to this some 6000 other non-stamp engravings, some large enough to be hung on church walls, and it is no wonder that Decaris is usually regarded as France’s Master Engraver of the 20th century. 

His style is sometimes described as a mix of classicism and audacity. It is very recognisable, which is partly because, once established, he never changed his style much. As an all-round engraver, Decaris was praised for his work depicting all sorts of subjects: from architecture to landscapes, and from portraits to historical scenes.

Albert Decaris’ first designed and engraved French stamp was the 1935 3f50 value depicting St. Trophime in  Arles. His final French stamp would be the 1985 issue to mark National Memorial Day. In between there is a wealth of issues to be enjoyed, often in cooperation with other famous names of French engravers, but there are also sets which proudly bear his name only.

The most outstanding of the latter is undoubtedly the series of historical scenes. In 1966, the ‘History of France’ series was introduced, which would run until 1973, with every year three values being issued. The whole set depicts the complete history of France, from Vercingétorix in Roman times to the Coronation of Napoleon in 1804.

Being such a celebrated engraver, it goes without saying that Decaris was also asked to produce his own Marianne. Unfortunately, only the one value of his Marianne de Decaris was ever issued, in 1960. The stamp was printed in letterpress which may have contributed to its early demise. Decaris did engrave its successor, Marianne de Cocteau, but that stamp, too, never took off. Decaris’ other definitive fared much better. It was his Gallic Cock design and engraving, introduced in 1962. Although only two values were ever made, it has become quite an iconic stamp in France’s catalogue.

Among the many stamps Decaris designed and engraved for the French colonies, it is the 1961 omnibus issue to mark the Foundation of Air Afrique, issued in eleven (former) French colonies, that really stands out.

During his long career, Decaris often received honours for his work. In his early forties he was elected a fellow of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, and he would later become its president. Decaris also received the Légion d’Honneur medal, and was even proclaimed official ‘naval painter’. In 1981, a  large exposition in the French Postal Museum honoured his work done for the postal authorities.

But probably the most fitting of all honours was the 2001 stamp issue to mark the birth centenary of Decaris. Designed and engraved by Claude Jumelet, the design pays homage to Decaris’ more humorous side, by depicting the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe dancing together.

This article was first published in Stamp and Coin Mart of September 2012 and is reproduced with their kind permission.






STAMPS

1935
France, St Trophime d'Arles
France, Liner Normandie
French Guiana, West Indies Tercentenary, Cayenne recaptured design

1936
Ivory Coast, Definitives

1937
Cameroun, International exhibition
Dahomey, International exhibition
French Equatorial Africa, International exhibition
French Guiana, International exhibition
French Guinea, International exhibition
French Indian Settlements, International exhibition
French Polynesia, International exhibition
French Somali Coast, International exhibition
French Sudan, International exhibition
Guadeloupe, International exhibition
Indo-China, International Exhibition
Ivory Coast, International Exhibition
Madagascar, International exhibition
Mali Federation, International exhibition
Martinique, International exhibition
Mauritania, International exhibition
New Caledonia, International exhibition
Niger, International exhibition
Oceanic Settlements, International exhibition
St. Pierre et Miquelon, International Exhibition
Senegal, International exhibition

1938
French Guinea, Definitives
Mauritania, Definitives
New Caledonia, Air

1939
Cameroun, World fair
Cameroun, Definitives
Cameroun, Postage due
Dahomey, World fair
France, Battleship Clemenceau
French Equatorial Africa, World fair
French Guiana, World fair
French Guinea, World fair
French Indian Settlements, World fair
French Polynesia, World fair
French Sudan, World fair
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, World fair
Guadeloupe, World fair
Indo-China, World fair
Inini, World fair
Ivory Coast, World fair
Kwangchow, World fair
Madagascar, World fair
Mali Federation, World fair
Mauritania, World fair
New Caledonia, World fair
St. Pierre et Miquelon, New York World's Fair

1940
Togo, Definitives

1941
Dahomey, Definitives
France, Seamen's dependents relief fund

1943
France, National relief fund

1944
France, Branly
France, Petain's birthday
France, National relief fund
France, Battle of Isly

1945
French Equatorial Africa, Victory

1946
Cameroun, Victory
Cameroun, Definitives
Cameroun, From Chad to the Rhine
France, Luxembourg Palace definitive
France, Peace conference
France, National relief fund
France, UNESCO conferenc
French Equatorial Africa, From Chad to the Rhine
French Guiana, Victory
French Guiana, From Chad to the Rhine
French Indian Settlements, Victory
French Indian Settlements, From Chad to the Rhine
French Polynesia, Victory
French Polynesia, From Chad to the Rhine
French Somali Coast, From Chad to the Rhine
French Somali Coast, Victory
French West Africa, Victory
French West Africa, From Chad to the Rhine
Guadeloupe, Victory
Guadeloupe, From Chad to the Rhine
Indo-China, Victory
Indo-China, From Chad to the Rhine
Madagascar, Victory
Madagascar, From Chad to the Rhine
Mali Federation, Victory
Mali Federation, From Chad to the Rhine
New Caledonia, Victory
New Caledonia, From Chad to the Rhine
St. Pierre et Miquelon, Victory
St. Pierre et Miquelon, From Chad to the Rhine
Wallis & Futuna Islands, From Chad to the Rhine
Wallis & Futuna Islands, Victory

1947
Cameroun, Definitive
France, Cathedrals
Guadeloupe, Definitives

1948
France, UN assembly
Saar, Definitives

1949
Algeria, UPU
France, Workers
France, Air (vignette only of 1000f)

1950
France, Stamp day
France, François Rabelais

1951
France, Fontainebleau
France, Stamp day
France, Textile industry
France, Vincent d'Indy
France, National relief fund
France, UN General assembly
France, Clemenceau

1952
Algeria, African army
France, Marshal de Lattre de Tassigny
France, Council of Europe
France, Leonardo da Vinci

1953
France, Tour de France
Tunisia, Air

1954
Algeria, St. Augustine
France, Paris Fair
France, Views
France, Romanesque studies
France, Metric system
Togo, Airmail Definitive
Tunisia,  Definitives

1955
Andorra (French),  Definitives
France, Saint-Simon
France, Inventors
France, Television development
France, Concentration camps
France, Valenciennes railway
France, La Capricieuse
France, Views
French Equatorial Africa, Air
Tunisia, L'Essor
Tunisia, Rotary

1956
Algeria, Franchet d'Esperey
France, Colonel Driant
France, Battle of Verdun
France, Franchet d'Esperey
France, National relief fund
France, Famous men
French Equatorial Africa, Economic and social development fund
St. Pierre et Miquelon, definitive
Tunisia, Definitives
Tunisia, Autonomous government inauguration

1957
France, Famous men
France, Stamp day
France, Resistance heroes
France, Universities world games
France, Europa
French Equatorial Africa, Kudu definitive
Peru, French Products exhibition, all except 40c 

1958
France, Scientists
France, Resistance heroes
France, Paris Rome friendship
France (Council of Europe), Definitives
French Equatorial Africa, WHO
French West Africa, Centenary of Dakar
Monaco, Virgin Mary


1959
France, Academic palms
France, Red cross
France, Jaurès
France, Blood donors
Ivory Coast, Abidjan Games
Malagasy Republic, Proclamation of republic
Niger Republic, Definitives

1960
Cameroun, Proclamation of independence
Cameroun, World refugee year
Dahomey, Airmail definitives
France, European Mayors
France, Refugee year
France, Olympics
France, Maillol centenary
French Polynesia, Definitives
Gabon, Fifth world forestry congress
Malagasy Republic, Youth games
Mauritania, Inauguration
Mauritania, Proclamation of independence
Monaco, Refugee year
Monaco, Definitive
Monaco, Marine life
Monaco, Oceanographic museum
Morocco, World refugee year
Morocco, Olympic games
Togo, World refugee Year
Upper Volta, Proclamation of independence

1961
Congo, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
France, Marianne de Cocteau
France, Actors and actresses
France, Pierre Fauchard
Mali Republic, Proclamation of independence and admission to UN
Mali Republic, First anniversary of independence
Monaco, Nubian monuments
Niger Republic, First anniversary of admission to UN
Senegal, Sports
Upper Volta, First world meteorological day

1962
Cameroun, World leprosy day
Cameroun, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
Cameroun, First anniversary of reunification
Central African Republic, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
Chad, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
France, Gallic cock definitives
France, Resistance memorials
France, National hospitals week
Gabon, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
Ivory Coast, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
Ivory Coast, Second anniversary of admission to UN
Mauritania, Foundation of Air Afrique airline
Mauritania, Admission to UN
Mauritania, First anniversary of admission to UN
Mauritania, 2nd anniversary of independence
Mauritania, First anniversary of Unity congress
Monaco, MS Society
Monaco, Europa
Senegal, First anniversary of admission to UNO
Senegal, Foundation of Air Afrique airline


1963
Andorra (French), Andorran history
Central African Republic, Bangui-Douala railway project
Comoro Islands, Human rights
France, Record undersea dive
France, Red cross
French Polynesia, Human rights
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Human rights
Ivory Coast, Bouaké Fair
Ivory Coast, 15th anniversary of declaration of human rights
Monaco, Freedom from hunger
New Caledonia, 15th Anniv. of Declaration of Human Rights
St. Pierre et Miquelon, 15th Anniv. of Declaration of Human Rights

1964
Andorra (French), Andorran history
Cameroun, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Central African Republic, Bangui cathedral
Central African Republic, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Chad, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Chad, Nubian monuments preservation fund
Congo, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Dahomey, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
France, Paralytics' rehabilitation
France, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
France, Philatec 1964
Gabon, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Ivory Coast, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Madagascar, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Malagasy Republic, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Mali Republic, Olympic games
Mauritania, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Mauritania, World meteorological day
Monaco, Philatec 1964
Monaco, TV festival
Monaco, Human rights
Niger Republic, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
St. Pierre et Miquelon, St Pierre New York Airmail flight
Senegal, Industries
Senegal, Twin towns congress
Senegal, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Togo, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Upper Volta, French, African and Malagasy cooperation
Wallis & Futuna Islands, Olympic games

1965
Andorra (French), ITU
France, Welcome campaign
France, ITU
France, Colonisation of Réunion
France, Reafforestation
French Polynesia, Canteen art
Gabon, Mining riches
Ivory Coast, Abidjan railway station
Mali Republic, Animals
Niger Republic, Human progress
Reunion, Colonisation

1966
Cameroun, Hotels
Central African Republic, National diamond industry
France, Art
France, History of France
Ivory Coast, National school of administration
Niger, World festival of Negro Arts

1967
Andorra (French), Social Security
Cameroun, Conquest of the moon
France, Accountancy congress
France, History of France
Gabon, American missionaries arrival
Monaco, CIME
Upper Volta, National savings bank

1968
Cameroun, Telecommunications satellites
Central African Republic, Olympic games Grenoble and Mexico
Chad, International hydrological decade
Comoro Islands, WHO
Comoro Islands, Human rights year
France, Release of Huguenot prisoners
France, Children's hospital charity
France, History of France
French Polynesia, WHO
French Polynesia, Human rights year
French Southern and Antarctic Territories, WHO
French Southern and Antarctic Territories, Human rights year
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, WHO
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Human rights year
Malagasy Republic, Stamp day
New Caledonia, WHO
New Caledonia, Human Rights Year
New Caledonia, Stamp Day
St. Pierre et Miquelon, WHO 
St. Pierre et Miquelon, Human Rights Year

1969
France, Tourism
France, History of France
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Buildings and landmarks
Gabon, Philexafrique
Monaco, Hector Berlioz

1970
Cameroun, Tourism
Cameroun, Brewing industry
France, Gerbault's world voyage
France, Fight cancer day
France, Handicapped world games
France, History of France
France, UN anniversary
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, Buildings and landmarks
Ivory Coast, Industrial expansion
Mali Republic, EXPO 70
Niger Republic, National museum

1971
Cameroun, Inauguration of Federal University Yaoundé
Congo, 75th anniversary of modern olympic games
France, History of France
France, Interparliamentary Union conference
France, Craft guilds association
Malagasy Republic, Industries
Mauritania, Racial equality year

1972
Central African Republic, Operation Bokassa
Central African Republic, Inauguration of Bokassa university
Central African Republic, Opening of Hotel St Sylvestre
France, History of France
Ivory Coast, Stamp day
Monaco, Congress of zoology
Niger Republic, World telecommunications day
Upper Volta, National Development Plan

1973
Congo, Oil installations Pointe Noire
Congo, Congo Brewers' association
France, History of France

1974
Andorra (French), Church sculptures
Monaco, UPU
Monaco, Circus festival

1975
Central African Republic, Central African woods
France, Machine-tools exhibition
France, Senate
French Territory of the Afars and the Issas,  Administrative buildings
Monaco, Carmen

1976
France, Marine officers' reserve association
France, Nature conservation
France, Atlantic museum
Monaco, Philatelic federation

1977
France, Battle of Nancy
France, Language parliaments
France, Economic and social council

1978
France, Tourism
Monaco, Circus festival 

1979
France, Red cross

1980
France, Tourism
France, Rochambeau's arrival at Rhode Island

1981
France, Tourism
France, Naval school

1982
France, Philexfrance 82
France, St Theresa of Avila
France, Discovery of Louisiana

1983
France, French alliance
France, Red cross

1984
France, Handicrafts

1985
France, Huguenots
France, Memorial day

OTHER PHILATELIC ITEMS

1934
France, Unaccepted engraving for 3f St Trophime d'Arles stamp

1944
France, Unaccepted engraving for 4f+6f Louis de Broglie stamp

1946
France, Unaccepted engraving for 10f Conference de Paris stamp

1948
France, Unaccepted engraving for 12f Palais du Luxembourg stamp

1949
France, Unaccepted engraving for 500f Marseille airmail stamp
France, Unaccepted engraving for 500f Paris airmail stamp
France, Unaccepted engraving for 1000f Paris airmail stamp

1951
France, Unaccepted engraving for 12f Palais de Fontainebleau stamp
France, Unaccepted engraving for 25f + 10f Napoléon I stamp
France, Unaccepted engraving for 18f and 30f UN stamps

1952
France, Unaccepted engraving for 15f Marshal de Lattre stamp

1955
Ceres, engraving for Ceux qui creént nos timbres Volume I
France, Unaccepted engraving for 15f Television stamp

1960
France, Small parcel post stamps

1972
France, Engraving for philatelic congress

OTHER WORK

1951
Chemin de croix, engraving for the Saint-Pierre church at Besançon

39 comments:

  1. A most superlative blog post!! I've been collating a Decaris database for some time now. This will be invaluable! Thanks Adrian :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like it! And if you have more info on his work for 'Independent French Africa' (that is tp say, all his stamps not in part 6 of the SG catalogues) then I'd be happy to hear from you again!

      Delete
    2. When you say 'Independent French Africa' do you mean French West Africa's states after 1960?

      Delete
    3. What I mean is basically all countries in parts 12 to 14 of the SG catalogues (the ones they haven't published for decades), so countries such as Algeria, Angola, Benin, Burundi, Cameroun, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoro Islands, Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Libya, Malagasy Republic, Mali Republic, Mauritiania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger republic, Rwanda, St. Thomas & Prince, Senegal, Sumalia, Sudan, Togo, Tunisia, Upper Volta and Zaire. I know they won'ty all feature French engravers but this is basically the info I'm missing, so any help is appreciated!

      Delete
  2. Hi Adrian,
    I've just been looking at my Decaris stamps- inspired by this blog post :) I noticed that you have his first stamp listed as St. Trophime issued in May. Wasn't his first stamp the Norrmandie issued in April? Forgive me if I'm wrong and messed something up lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You had me worried there for a bit, this early in the morning! But I checked many French sites and they all quote the Trophime stamp as his first engraving. I presume therefore that he did engrave this one first, even though it was issued a little later than the Normandie issue. There's only some ten days in between the issue dates, so this could well have been the case.

      Delete
  3. I thought it may have been something like that!! I love Decaris and every bit of info I can get on him is fantastic. Is there any particular French site that you use for him that you'd recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, not really. Just a lot of googling and a lot of luck! I've actually just managed to win a 1955 booklet on stamp designers/engravers which is to include an engraving by Decaris. I'll feature it when I get it, so watch this space!
      :-)

      Delete
    2. Hey stamp crazy, if you send me your email address through this comment system (I won't publish it), then I'll send you scans of a great little Decaris interview of 1955 which I've just got hold of (in French).

      Delete
    3. Thanks heaps for the article, Adrian. Just gotta find a way f getting it translated. Thanks again :)

      Delete
  4. Hi Adrian,
    I finally got the Decaris Blog I mentioned to you a while back up and running if you want to take a look:
    http://albertdecaris.blogspot.com.au/

    Cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done you! I've added to the blog list on my site.

      Delete
    2. Fantastic! Thanks heaps, Adrian :)

      Delete
  5. Hi Adrian,
    A quick question for you. Do you know how many of the 1937 International Exhibition omnibus stamps Decaris engraved?

    Cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Matt, Decaris engraved the 'Agriculture' design and the 'Madame de Poitiers' design (the latter one shown here). I don't know if I have the complete list, but I won't be far wrong, I don't think, so that would be 18 countries.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Adrian,
    Sorry to be a pain. I've been doing some resaerch on the 1937 omnibus issue. I noticed that the Afars and Issars didn't come into being until 1967. Before this it was called French Somaliland. Would the omnibus have this name instead of the former? Or have I missed something vital - again :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes of course, you're so right! Have just amended the list. SG calls it French Somali Coast, therefore so will I.

      Delete
  8. And I also just found one for Niger.

    Cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
  9. I just found a sales listing for the full set. Apparently it includes 126 stamps from 21 countries. I hope this helps a bit.

    ReplyDelete
  10. And Martinique makes the 21st. Country. And I just found out - if you don't already know - these 21 countries issued a s/s. Three further countries issued the s/s only

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Got them all now, thanks a lot! Do you know which three countries issued the miniature sheets and which stamps are depicted on them?

      Delete
    2. No worries! The hunt has been fun. I'm still tracking down what the countries were. But I can tell you that the s/s' s featured the torch bearer stamp.

      Matt

      Delete
  11. Ah right, so we're talking Antonin Delzers for those. Which reminds me, I must make all the changes for the other engravers too... Oh well, tomorrowe's another day!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Adrian,
    I have a few "From Chad to Rhine" omnibus additions for you.
    Cameroun
    Somali Coast
    Wallis & Futuna Is.
    In fact, the last two can be added to the Victory stamp also.
    cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! Have amended the list accordingly.

      Delete
  13. Hi Adrian, I have recently uncovered another 1935 Decaris stamp. French Guiana Tercentenary, issued on 21 October. It consists of 3 values of the same design.
    Cheers
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done! I have updated my list and also that of Delzers who was the engraver of the second design of this set.

      Delete
  14. Hi Adrian,
    I've been trying to track down definitive proof that Decaris engraved the 1957 Peru stamp. Do you have any documentation that proves it by any chance?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Matt, all I have to go on is the SG catalogue, which states that Decaris engraved the whole set except for the 40c, which is done by Pheulpin. I did notice, though, that I had it the wrong way round in my database so I've now rectified the entry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting. Everything that I found out says that Decaris only did the 40c stamp and the others were done by Pheulpin. LOL. I have to admit he 40c stamp is the only one that is "Decaris-like". A mystery.

      Delete
  16. I just now got a message from another Decaris collector who sent me an image of a design proof of the 2.20 /s done by Decaris and it is totally different to the final stamp. My feeling is that Decaris did the 40c stamp only. The others look nothing like his work. Just my humble opinion lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all very mysterious indeed, especially when I had it the other way around, which is how you think it should be. But I can't think where I would have got that from. As far as I know, my SG is my only Peru reference and I rechecked just now and it really says that Pheulpin did the 40c and Decaris the others. Maybe we'll have to wait for a signed die proof to appear from nowhere!

      Delete
    2. Now that would indeed be good to find! I was wondering is there any chance I could get you to do a scan of that page Not because I don't believe you! LOL. It is purely to add to my reference material! No probs f you can't :)

      Matt

      Delete
  17. Hi Adrian, I have another update for you. The 1964 Co-Operation was an Omnibus issue (just discovered) issued in:
    Cameroun
    Cent. Afr.
    Chad
    Congo PR
    Dahomey
    France
    Gabon
    Ivory Coast
    Madagascar
    Mauritania
    Niger
    Senegal
    Togo

    I found another couple of omnibuses, but I'll post them to you later :)
    Matt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Duly noted and amended! I haven't finished uploading all of 'Africa since independence yet', am still stuck in Malagasy Republic, so the list should be more complete in I don't know how many weeks/months' time. Having said that, these omnibus issues are easily skipped as they only have tiny non-image mentions in the SG catalogue. So thanks for keeping an eye on things!

      Delete