Henry Simon (1910-1987), Peintre du mouvement dans la lumière (*)

Sa vie, son œuvre

Les Amis d’Henry Simon


See the site in machine translation French-English.


The association Les Amis d’Henry Simon welcomes you on its website dedicated to Henry Simon (1910-1987), talented painter, great artist, whose abundant works (paintings, drawings, ceramics) reflect his generous soul.


The website is in French but pictures make it easy to visit even if you don't speak the language.



The non-profit association (law of 1901) was created in 1990, three years after Henry Simon's death.


Main objectives

  • Ongoing inventory of his works

  • To set up exhibitions, support initiatives related to the artist

  • To publish documents (books, leaflets, video-films) about his life and work

  • To protect his legacy


Please contact us

  • gestionnairesite@henrysimon.com (website management


Want to become a member ?


A biography of Henry Simon


Henry Simon was born on December 28, 1910, in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez (Vendée), on the western coast of France.


At a very early age, he showed a real gift for drawing, and received support at school where he learned classical drawing.


In 1928, he was admitted as a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Nantes. Emile Simon, Alexis Lesage and Patay were his teachers.


In 1930, he was awarded the prix Decré, presented every year to a young artist.


In 1932, he was admitted to the Ecole nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris, in M. Lucien Simon's class. He then received the « Conté » award. While in Paris, he attended many different workshops.


Back in Vendée in 1934, he dedicated himself to painting. He met the painter Jean Launois and became a member of a group of painters known as the Groupe de Saint-Jean-de-Monts.


“My vision as a painter was born from my country; I only have to look inside to celebrate its beauty.” H.S.


“I was very lucky to be part of the generation following in the footsteps of Charles Milcendeau.” H.S.


In 1939, he was mobilised. Taken prisoner in 1940, he was sent to stalag IB in eastern Prussia where he became friend with Charles-Emile Pinson, an artist who had received the prix de Rome for etching. In the camp, he managed to keep drawing.


“At the time, I was overwhelmed by all there was to convey. There was no pretending then, only the naked self; for a painter, that was a tremendous, a huge lesson.” H. S.


When he came back to France, he gathered 20 water-colours brought back from the prisoners camp under the title « Compagnons de Silence » (Comrades in Silence). His brother André wrote the text.


In 1945 he resumed the pre-war rhythm of his paintings exhibitions.


In 1950, he married Monique Porteau with whom he had eight children: Jean-Luc, Dominique, Anne, Elisabeth, Pascal, Frédérique, Véronique and Olivier. That same year, he went to Algeria.


“I went to Algeria because I felt an urge to confirm my study of colour. I was looking for joy. I found it in Vendée, through a latent melancholy, that light veil that filters the bright sun, softening the vivid expressions. I found it again in Algeria, much brighter of course, but subdued still, thanks to all the different shades of white.” H.S.


From 1950 to 1960, Henry Simon worked on decorating public buildings: a fresco in the city casino of Les Sables-d'Olonne, paintings for the casino La Pastourelle in Saint-Jean-de-Monts.


From 1960, his work was centered on a chosen theme: Local scenes, Fishermen, Youth, Circus, Dance, Games, Music, Water, Picnics, Faith, Portraits — treated with charcoal, pastel, water-colour, gouache, oil.


Henry Simon said about his love of water as a theme: “I realised how important water is for pictorial purposes. Water is an always changing plastic element which allows a thousand different visions in a very short time.” H.S.


In 1968, his paintings were presented to the Peintres témoins de leur temps exhibition. One of them, titled My Eighth Children, showing his family, offers a very colourful and poised composition, and received great acclaim.


A first Rétrospective Henry Simon was set up in 1971 at the city museum in Les Sables-d'Olonne.


In 1976, he was promoted Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

In 1978, he received the Charles Milcendeau award, and that same year, a second Rétrospective was set up at the Palais des Congrès in Saint-Jean-de-Monts.


Henry Simon died on February 27, 1987 in Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, at home, his family and friends around him. He left behind an eloquent, genuinely creative work, filled with light and bliss. Poetry and reality merge to reveal the artist sensitivity.


Biography by Gaston Herbreteau.

Translated by Hélène Ladjadj

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