Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Albert Brenet

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday : The Martial Art of Albert Brenet

Born June 25, 1903 at Harfleur, a small coastal town on the Normandy Coast, Albert Victor Eugene Brenet was almost delivered into saltwater. As a youth, he sketched the fishing boats and coastal craft that frequented his city and by 1920 at age 17 had earned a place at the École des beaux-arts in Paris.

However, the young rake soon left school and arranged passage on the leaky old three-masted barque Bonchamps, one of the last French sailing ships in commercial service, and spent several months aboard her on the Australian run with an extended stay in the French West Indies.

Bonchamp, as she looked in 1902

Bonchamp, as she looked in 1902

This undoubtedly influenced his paintings even more. More travel was offered him when he ventured to equatorial Africa with a prize funds from awarded by the Salon des Artistes Français.

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By the late 1920s he was a regular with the magazine L’Illustration and soon took to other commercial work than included much travel advertising for Air France, Imperial Airways and Air Algeria in the 1930s.

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1935.

1935.

Albert Brenet - 8-e539890dd27523bc6280f6d103f7072d Art by Albert Brenetv

By 1936 he was named an official illustrator of the French Department of Marine and in that line painted French warships, sailors, aircraft and Marines.

Le Bouvet aux Dardanelles

Le Bouvet aux Dardanelles

Le Bougainville arrivant à Tahiti

Le Bougainville arrivant à Tahiti

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Early French predreadnought battleships Amiral Duperré, in the center is the Redoutable and to the right is the Formidable

Early French predreadnought battleships Amiral Duperré, in the center is the Redoutable and to the right is the Formidable

Bréguet 521 Bizerte en panne va être remorqué par torpilleur

Bréguet 521 Bizerte en panne va être remorqué par torpilleur

Caught in London in June 1940 on business, he was effectively exiled from France for the war but contributed to the war effort through illustration.

SPITFIRE XIV au décollage

SPITFIRE XIV au décollage

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk

Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of Dunkirk

Hydravion survolant un convoi maritime

Hydravion survolant un convoi maritime

charge of the spahis la bataille de La Horgne le 15 mai 1940

charge of the spahis la bataille de La Horgne le 15 mai 1940

CHANCE VOUGHT V.156 à l’attaque

CHANCE VOUGHT V.156 à l’attaque

Art by Albert Brenet v

Avro Lancaster

Avro Lancaster

110220032842825007679683 2Art by Albert Brenet

In 1946 he was awarded the Legion of Honor for his service to the country and was made an official artist to all three service branches.

albert-brenet_05 Art by Albert Brenet

French military gendarmes. Note the breech cover on the MAS rifle

French military gendarmes. Note the breech cover on the MAS rifle

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French Marins commandos, 1960s, note MAT-49 subguns

French Marins commandos, 1960s, note MAT-49 subguns

He continued his work, specializing in Gouache board, and moved into illustrations for books (illustrating a release of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, in 1976), models, and continued his duties to the Republic, venturing out on the carrier Foch as late as the 1991.

SS France at Saint-Nazaire, 1961

SS France at Saint-Nazaire, 1961

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Super Etendard launching, 1991, Foch

Super Etendard launching, 1991, Foch

Mural for the 8th Cavalry regiment, 1993

Mural for the 8th Cavalry regiment, 1993

He died in 2003.

A number of his works are at the Musee National de la Marine at Toulon, the Musée portuaire de Dunkerque, the Gallimard National Maritime Museum, and elsewhere and are available on the Portail des collections des musées de France (for example here) and there are numerous online galleries that host his images.

Thank you for your work, sir.

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