Gumery Family of French Artists & Sculptors
Early Gumery Family
Members of the Gumery family first came to the village of Passy in 1788 - a pass was issued allowing the Masters Augustin and François Gumery to enter the village of Passy from the village of Auteuil. The lord of the manor of the barony of Sainte Hélène des Millières in Savoy requested aid and protection for "Augustin and François Gumery of the parish of Notre Dame des Millières, people of honour and probity" who wished to go to Paris.
The progenitor of this particular line of artists was Joseph Gumery who was born in 1755 in the parish of Notre Dame des Millières in Savoy, and settled in Paris where he died on 6 January 1823. His son Nicolas (some references call him Achille but according to family information he was in fact named Nicolas) was born in 1798.
Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery
Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery was born in Paris on 14 June 1827, the son of Nicolas Gumery and his wife Jeanne Françoise Adolphine Tarlé. In 1859 he married Emilia Sarah de Medeiros (1830-1918) who was of Anglo-Portugeuse origin. Emilia was the daughter of Joâo Carvalho de Medeiros, a Portuguese from the Azore Islands, and his first wife who was English. Joâo came to Passy about 1840 and worked in a small soap factory by the name "Miel-Dieu". They lived next door to the Gumerys in Rue Basse. A bust of Emilia was sculpted from terracotta by Jean Gautherin in 1876 and today is in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery died in Paris on 19 January 1871 and was buried in the family plot at Montmartre cemetery. He was survived by his wife, Emilia, who died in 1918 aged 88 years, and is also buried at Montmartre. To friends and family Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery was known as Achille, and frequently signed his work "A. Gumery".
1) Charles Achille born circa 1860, died 1888.
2) Adolphe Ernest born 5 April 1861 Rue de Vaugirard, Paris.
Charles Alphonse Gumery was a student of Armand François Toussaint (1806-1862) at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1850 for his sculpture Achilles Wounded in the Heel by Paris. The statue depicts Achilles turning sideways to inspect the wound in his heel delivered by Paris's arrow. Gumery shows his subject as nonchalantly inspecting his wound, even though it will eventually kill him. The original plaster of Achilles Wounded is at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Achilles Wounded in the Heel by Paris, 1850, plaster
The Prix de Rome was a scholarship for promising art students, created in France in 1663 by Louis XIV. It was divided into four categories - painting, sculpting, architecture and engraving. The winners were entitled to four years study at the Academy of France in Rome. As his prize Gumery studied at the Villa Médicis in Rome from 1851-55.
In 1859 Gumery does a bas-relief sculpture for the church Notre-Dame de Grâce de Passy in Rue de l'Annonciation, and sculpts statues for the Saint-Michel fountain.
The two most publicly visible of Gumery's statues would be those of L'Harmonie and La Poesie standing on top of the roof on either side of the Paris Opera House. On 8 December 1869 Gumery was commissioned to sculpt two statues for the roof of the Opéra by his friend the architect Charles Garnier. On the night of 28/29 August 1869 ink was thrown over the statue La Danse at the Opéra, sculpted by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux - it was thought by the public to be indecent because of the nudity of the figures. The stains were never quite removed. Garnier asked Gumery to sculpt another La Danse to replace Carpeaux group. After Napoleon III declared war on Prussia in 1870, Gumery's death in 1871, then the death of Carpeaux in 1875, the scandal was forgotten and Carpeaux statues remained in place, La Danse being on the right side of the front façade of the Opera. The original La Danse has been removed to the Musée dOrsay as it was suffering from the effects of pollution, and in its place is a reproduction by Paul Belmondo. Gumery's La Danse is now in the Museum D'Angers.
During the building of the opera house Gumery's two sons, Achille and Adolphe, would play at the building site and would often sit in their fathers two huge statue groups. Later, in 1880, this scene was the subject of a painting by Etienne Dinet, a colleague and friend of Adolphe at the École des Beaux-Arts.
The Opéra de Paris, Palais Garnier, is today crowned on the left with Harmony and on the right Poetry, gilded statues sculpted from bronze, 7.50 meters high, forged by Gumery in 1868-9. In June 2000 a two year restoration was completed at the Opéra de Paris returning the building to its original state as Garnier intended it to be, and Gumery's statues have been gilded as seen below.
Gumery's statues, Palais Garnier, the old Paris Opera House - L'Harmonie on the left, and La Poesie (Poetry) on the right.
Recently on the online auction website, Ebay, there appeared a bronze portrait medallion sculpted by Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery in 1856 and signed "A Gumery" (he often signed himself "A Gumery"). On the back is the mark of the French scupltor Pierre-Jean David D'Angers (1788-1856) so the medallion is most likely of him to commemorate his death in 1856, cast by the Paris foundry of Eck and Durand.
Medallion of Pierre-Jean David D'Angers, sculpted by Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery in 1856 (found on Ebay)
The Jardin Marco Polo (2.7 acres/1.09 hectares) on the Avenue de l'Observatoire in Paris was one of two gardens created in 1867 between the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Observatory. The two gardens are planted with four rows of chestnut trees and contain statues by the most famous sculptors of the Second Empire, including La Nuit (Night) by Charles Gumery.
On 29 June 1867 Gumery was awarded the Legion d'Honneur by the French government.
La Nuit by Gumery in the Jardin Marco Polo.
Some of the many works of Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery are:-
Adolphe Ernest Gumery
Adolphe Ernest Gumery was born in Paris on 5 April 1861, the son of sculptor Charles Alphonse Achille Gumery and Emilia Sarah de Medeiros. In 1886 he married Adrienne Coca (1863-1956). Adrienne was the daughter of Arthur Coca (1837-1911), a public construction engineer from New Orleans, USA, and Adna Huber from Valenciennes. Adrienne was born in Montmartre on 7 February 1863. There was also a son, Arthur Coca. After her mother died, her father went to Mexico where he remarried and had further children. He made a fortune in Mexico and sent for Adrienne to join him, she spent one year there but returned to Paris in 1882, her father giving permission for her to marry Adolphe. Adolphe Ernest Gumery died on 5 January 1943 at his home at 56 Rue de Passy in Paris, and is buried in the family plot in Montmartre cemetery. Adrienne died in 1956.
1) Achille born 1 June 1889 in Paris; died 30 September 1914 in Saint Thierry, killed in action in World War One; buried at Montmartre cemetery.
2) Madeleine born 8 May 1896 in Paris; died 1978 at 56 Rue de Passy, Paris; married Pierre Izambard in 1917; => Viviane Izambard born 1919; married Jean Morel.
3) Roger born 3 November1897 in Paris; died 11 August 1917 in Epernay, killed in action in World War One; buried at Montmartre cemetery.
Gumery initially studied at the Lycée Henri IV. He was a brilliant pupil and won many prizes. He studied at the École des Beaux-Arts as a pupil of Galland, Gustave Boulanger and Jules Lefebre, graduating in 1882. From 1881 to 1891 he exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français. The family lived for a time at 24 Rue Truffaut in Batignolles in Paris, an area where many artists lived brought together by Manet in revolt against academism and in support of the ideas of Emile Zola. Emile Zola chose Gumery to do 14 watercolours to illustrate the original edition of his masterpiece novel Germinal published in 1885. Germinal is considered to be the greatest novel ever written in the French language, the realistic and harsh story of coalminers' strike in northern France in the 1860s. Gumery did a portrait of Zola in 1884.
From 1891 to 1942 he exhibited at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts where he was made an Associate member in 1904, and a Member in 1906, later becoming a member of the jury, and finally the Secretary-General. Together with others he helped found the Salon dAutomne in 1906.
In 1917 Madeleine married Pierre Izambard. Pierre was born on 28 April 1896 in Montmartre in the house where Auguste Renoir lived, the son of Georges Izambard, a professor of Arthur Rimbaud, and his wife Adele. Pierre's sister, Marie, was a model for Renoir. Pierre went to war in 1916 and was wounded and buried alive by a shell blast. Luckily someone saw his boots sticking out of the dirt and thought he would have them, only to pull out a still alive but dazed soldier. Pierre and Madeleine went to live at 56 Rue de Passy where a daughter, Viviane, was born in 1919. Viviane became a source of joy to her grandfather after the loss of his two sons.
Gumery painted in many different locations around France - Brittany, Normandy, and Provence, and travelled to Spain, Morocco and Tunisia to paint. His son in law, Pierre Izambard, was appointed after the war as professor at the Chaptal College in Paris. Gumery had a great regard for his son in law. They were both of a similar happy, optimistic nature and both had a love of children. In 1920 Pierre was appointed to the college of Algiers and he, Madeleine and Viviane settled in Villa Paradou on the Boulevard Mustapha Supérieur. Adolphe and Adrienne visit regularly, with Adolphe being inspired by the light. He traveled the country painting, and during the three years the Izambards spent in Algiers, Gumery also visited Marrakech and Fez in Morocco. He visited his old friend, the orientalist painter, Etienne Dinet, who had converted to Islam and adopted the Arab way of life, and settled in Bou Saada. In 1925 the Izambards were assigned to Sousse in Tunisia, and again the Gumerys visited each year with Adolphe finding much to paint. In 1930 the Izambards returned to Paris, and in that same year the Gumerys and Izambards had their first visit to Carolles-sur-Mer where many paintings were executed.
Gumery had a number of private exhibitions in Paris, in his own atelier, and also at Georges Petit; and in Tunis and Brussels. The state acquired many of his paintings and today his paintings can be found in several important museums - the Musée dOrsay, the Musée du Luxembourg, the Petit Palais, and the Musée dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris, as well as museums in Bordeaux, Douai, Épinal, Hazebrouck, Albi, Laval, Brest, Dieppe, and Düsseldorf , and the Gallery Wanemaker in New York.
Adolphe Ernest Gumery, Self Portrait, 1939
Family visit to Chartreuse de Montreuil-sur-Mer, 1912
Below are listed a few of the 1200 works by Adolphe Ernest Gumery:-
Germinal d'Émile Zola, 1885, watercolour on paper
Washerwomen in Provence
Recently in the town hall of the 16th Arrondissement in Paris, an exhibition of one
hundred works of Gumery were exhibited. His paintings, drawings and watercolours were on
display from the 19th until the 30th May 2006. It was advertised thus:-
An Association of the Friends of the painter Adolphe Gumery was formed in 1999, based at 56 Rue de Passy. Their website is at http://gumery.free.fr and gives a detailed biography of his life.
Achille Gumery, the son of Adolphe Ernest Gumery, born 1 June 1889 in Paris and died 30 September 1914 in Saint Thierry, killed in action in World War One. He had begun a career in decorating, and also painted but died too young to have painted any recognised works.
Gumery family tomb in Montmartre cemetery, Paris
The bust on top of the gravestone at Montmartre cemetery is of Charles Alphonse Gumery done by his pupil, the sculptor Jean Gautherin.
If you have any further information of this family please email me as I would be very interested to learn more.