Discovering Eugene Villon


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Watercolour painters’ specificity came to a watershed the day when the Lyons Society of Watercolour Painters was created on June 23rd 1934 by Eugene Villon and Antoine Barbier. At the beginning, they were nine painters to exhibit and to give lectures on watercolour so as to heighten public awareness on the subject : Antoine Barbier, Emile Berthier, Jean Galland, Eugénie Humbert-Vignot, Yvonne Récamier, Marie Saubiez-Euler (treasurer and secretary for the societry), Charles Seitté, Eugene Villon and Claude Villeton, president of the society.

Example of a work by Eugène Villon for the poster of 50th show of the Lyons Society of watercolour painters


On December 16th 1934, at the Pouillé-Lecoultre Gallery, the brand new society proudly presented its members’ works for the first time to the public from Lyons. It’s for the sake of this science of the drawing and the technical and emotional qualities required by watercolours that these two artists wanted to gather a group of painters only specialized in watercolours.


This personal art needed to be popularized, as it had been for many years in Paris (thanks to the French Watercolour Painters Society) and in London. The Lyons Society of Watercolour Painters was warmly welcomed by the public and a short article describing this new society was published in the newspaper Bulletin :


“A new society ? When there are already so many in our city ? Indeed we could call it an abuse. But this society is not a replica with a different name of what we’re used to seeing everywhere : painting, drawing, wash drawing, pastel, engraving, etching, decorative arts, sculpture etc … all jumbled together and appealing to all categories of amateurs. No ! This one is exclusive and fills a gap, honouring one art that was missing : watercolour, especially appreciated and enjoyed in Lyons.”


This society was greatly welcomed by the public and after having exhibited successively at the Pouillé-Lecoutre Gallery as early as 1934, at the Majorelle Gallery around 1938, at Roger’s in 1951 for the 17th show, at the Chassaing Gallery as early as 1957, at L’Atelier Gallery from 1960, at the Jacobins Gallery in 1961 and at Le Sagitaire Gallery in 1963, the society rented to the city in 1964 the House of Lyons, place Bellecour, where it exhibited until 1987. The geographical situation of the house, in the heart of the “presqu’île” attracted a sizable crowd for the annual private viewings.


Now located at Espace Berthelot, the society is turning 68 years old. It’s still existing and proudly bears its emblem, created by Villon himself