Alternately painter, draftsman, watercolourist, sculptor, creator of sets, Méheut wants to be independent of any school and remains “unclassifiable”.

“He is an eclectic artist who has expressed himself in a wide range of techniques and materials from very varied currents and traditions”, explains Denis-Michel Boëll, scientific curator of the exhibition at the Pont-Aven museum, dedicated to the Méheut “Surveyor of Brittany” and presented until December 31.

We find there the great themes dear to the artist. First the study of the sea, initiated during a long stay at the marine biology laboratory in Roscoff (Finistère) between 1910 and 1912, through thousands of sketches, watercolors or gouaches by great precision.

This stay will nourish his first personal exhibition, in 1913, at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris, and will be all his life a source of inspiration for other creations, whether ceramics, engravings, illustrations of books, interior decorations or tableware.

Like an ethnographer, Méheut pays the same attention to detail when it comes to translating the popular Breton society of his time, in the work of the fields as in that of the sea but also in festive moments such as pardons. or the markets.

The Mathurin Méheut who, for more than four years, will testify by drawing the Great War as close as possible to men from the trenches where he fights, is also mentioned in Pont-Aven.

-Decoration of “Normandy”-

In Lamballe, where he was born to a carpenter father and an innkeeper mother, the new museum, located within the national stud farm, offers a permanent tour and a temporary exhibition this year on the theme of “Paquebots, at the crossroads decorative arts”.

Because between 1923 and 1950, “MM”, as he signs his works, creates decorations and illustrations for the two major French shipping companies of the time: the Messageries Maritimes and the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique. For the prestigious “Normandy”, he notably signed four panels, intended for the dining room, on the theme of the forest in winter.

Unfortunately, most of his works on board have disappeared with the ships and only photos, sketches or studies remain, regrets the museum’s communication officer, Fanny Caullery.

The old museum, in a magnificent 15th century half-timbered house, had become too cramped. The new space more than quadruples its area, with nearly 400 m2.

“Over the years, the collections have been enriched (…) Here, we can allow ourselves works that we could not present before, for example, because they were too big”, says Ms. Caullery.

You can thus admire the La Mer tapestry (5.95 m by 3.50 m), produced by the Manufacture des Gobelins, following an order placed in 1939 to Méheut with, as an imposed subject, an “allegory of marine life”. Opposite the tapestry, the life-size cardboard drawn by the artist.

There are also rare editions, such as this “Regarde” from 1929, illustrated by the painter and accompanied by a text by Colette, to encourage children to discover seaweed and seaside animals.

Often assigned to Brittany, Méheut also painted elsewhere, always with the same incisive line, whether it was Japan from where he returned during the mobilization for the First World War, Provence where he will have a house built, or even from his imagination, like these “Women pagures” born of a hermit crab.

Extremely prolific, Mathurin Méheut was appointed painter to the Navy in 1921, a mark of recognition highly prized by the artistic world. Very attached to the maritime world, he will however not fulfill any mission for the Navy and will not board any of its ships.