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Leo Francois - South African Artist From Art History

Art History - Historical Artists > F > Leo Francois


Historical Artist - Leo Francois (1870 - 1938)

Leo Francois was born in Chemnitz, Luxembourg 1870 - 1938

Art Education
Studied in Rome under Giuseppe Donadini and Siemaradski.

Short Artist Biography
- Leo Francois was a member of an old Huguenot family which had taken refuge in Luxembourg after the French Revolution and did his schooling in Dresden and Leipzig.
- After his art studies he travelled widely in Europe and the Near East.
- 1891 Came to South Africa at the instigation of Cecil Rhodes.
- 1896 Departed to London after Jameson Raid, returned to South Africa after 18 months to stay permanently; while in England assisted in assembling Alfred Beit collection and studied Turner and pre-Raphaelites.
- 1897 Settled in East Griqualand; Commercial life with intermittent painting.
- 1910 Leo Francois was elected Chairman of the art section of Kimberley Athenaeum and began to paint seriously.
- 1914 Leo Francois moved to Durban where he became very active in art-circles, life member of National Society of Arts.
- 1918 President of National Society of Arts on seven occasions; responsible for building annual July art exhibition into the major art-event of the year; Retired from business to become full time artist and critic.
- 1924 Planned the creation of the South African Institute of Art.
- 1926 Elected first president of the newly-constituted South African Institute.
- 1929 Leo Francois elected member of Royal British Colonial Society of Artists.
- 1936 Elected chairman of selection committee of art section, Empire Exhibition Johannesburg.
- Long-time member of Durban Art Gallery Advisory Board. During the latter years of his life Leo Francois turned his attention to dry-point etching; his works received favourable comment from leading English etchers.

Art Exhibitions
- Several one-man art exhibitions in the main centres of South Africa; most group exhibitions of Provincial Art Societies; South African Institute Exhibitions.
- 1936 Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg.
- 1941 Memorial Exhibition, Durban Art Gallery.
- 1943 Memorial Exhibition, Johannesburg.

Public Art Collections
South African National Gallery Cape Town, Durban Art Gallery, Ann Bryant Gallery East London, AC White Gallery Bloemfontein.

Berman, E. 1994. Art & Artists of South Africa . Southern Book Publishers.

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