Noyelles-sur-Sambres, in the North, Gromaire finished his secondary
studies in Pari, from 1900 to 1910. He registered in the Law
faculty, which he didn’t hesitate to abandon in order
to devote himself exclusively to painting. He attended, as a
liberal student, the different Académies de Montparnasse
(Cotarossi, Ranson, and Palette). Mobilised in 1914, he was
injured in 1916. It was then that he began to paint canvasses
where he immediately found the style that he would remain faithful
to all his life. His themes revolved around the peasant and
the worker. He tastes brought him to Roman paintings, and the
primitive French and Flemish. In the moderns, it was Cézanne
and Seurat that captivated him.
Gromaire received recognition at the Salon des Indépendants,
in 1925, when presenting his famous painting of La Guerre (both
realist and symbolic representation of soldiers in a trench,
of which the monumental aspect made sensation. Musée
d’art moderne de la ville de Paris). In 1923, the Kunstmuseum
of Bâle organised a large retrospective of his work.
During the International Exposition in 1937, Gromaire was in
charge of the decor at the Pavillon de la Manufacture de Sèvres.
From 1939, he was with Jean Lurçat, the initiator of
the French tapestry revival : in reaction to the techniques
in use, he recommended a return to the sources by the use of,
as in the Middle Ages, the large point and a restricted number
of tints. Gromaire created large hangings like La Flandre. He
worked for Aubusson and Gobelin (Les quatres Éléments
1938-1939 ; Les Quatres Saisons). In 1948, he received an order
for a large mural decoration for the Assemblée de l’Union
Française destined to celebrate the abolition of slavery.
Gromaire is generally categorised amongst the Expressionists.
However, the artist always fought being in this category, and
never claimed any title other than “Classic.”