August 25th, 2008
The image at top is Lurcat’s,”Paysage à Smyrne, l’arbre mort,” 1926. Now at the St. Louis Museum of Art. Below it is my Lurcat lithogaph purchased at a flea market in Florida. The paintings title is translated as something like, Dead tree in the landscape at Smyrne.
The www says: JEAN LURÇAT (French / 1892-1966) Painter, lithographer, and tapestry designer. During WWII Jean Lurçat was active in the French Resistance, sending out radio messages every night at 10:10 p.m. from a hidden transmitter in the 12th-century fortress the Tours Saint-Laurent in Saint Céré. Jean Lurçat’s revival of French tapestry in the war years made him a symbol of aesthetic and moral defiance of the Nazis. As Jean Cocteau wrote, “It required this man, Jean Lurçat, to say ‘No.'”
Smyrne was an Ancient city near the modern Turkish port of Izmir. It was founded by the Ionians (Greeks) as a stategic location because of its port and ease of defense. By the 8th century BC the city had a circuit of defensive walls. (Helicon).
The Great Fire of Smyrne (Sept 13-17th 1922) occured after the Turks took control of the city. There is still great dispute as to how the fire started: Turks, Greeks or Armenians, it ended the four year Greco-Turkish War (Wiki).
Perhaps the painting shows a landscape–real or imaginary–of the after effects of fire. I’m quite excited to have found some information on it.