Gabriel Deluc    (1883-1916)

Gabriel Deluc was a Basque painter born in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in 1883, the son of a painter and gilder. At 17, he went to the École des beaux arts in Paris as a pupil of Léon Bonnat. There is no firm evidence for the nature of his relations with Ravel, but they may have become acquainted during the latter's visits to Saint-Jean-de-Luz in 1911-1912. An exhibition of 53 of Deluc's paintings was held in the Grand Casino in 1912. Some of his work at this period reveals the influence of the ballet Daphnis et Chloé which received its première in 1912. "Le lac" (1912) shows pastoral figures in an idealised Mediterranean landscape which could easily serve as a backdrop to the ballet; and "La danse" (1912) features female figures in antique dress dancing to the accompaniment of a flute. (Both pictures are now in the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne.)

A further painting, untitled, by Deluc in 1912, depicting two lightly-clad figures of antiquity, who could well represent Daphnis and Chloë themselves, was owned by Ravel, and now hangs in the music room at Le Belvédère.

In 1914 Deluc at first volunteered for nursing duties, and then joined up in 1915. After service at the front, he was promoted to sergeant in 1916, and then to sub-lieutenant. He was killed at Souain on 15 September 1916.

His life is considered in "Gabriel Deluc, peintre et soldat", by Henri Jeanpierre, in Bulletin de la Société des Sciences, Lettres et Arts de Bayonne, no.130, 1974, pp.209-225. Much of the information above is drawn from Étienne Rousseau-Plotto's Ravel, portraits basques. (2004)

Ravel dedicated to him the Forlane in Le tombeau de Couperin. This movement was however sketched out in 1914 before the war began, and so this dedication at least was added retrospectively.

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