Camille Bombois


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(b Venarey-les-Laumes, Côte d'Or, 3 Feb. 1883; d Paris, 11 June 1970).

French naive painter. He was the son of a boatman and spent his childhood on canal barges until he became a farmhand at the age of 12. Later he was a road labourer and a wrestler in travelling circuses. From 1907 he lived in Paris, where after working as a porter on the Métro, a navvy, and a docker, he took a night job in a printing establishment so that he could paint during the day. In 1922 he came to the attention of Wilhelm Uhde and other critics. With their encouragement he was able to devote all his time to painting and he became one of the best-known naive painters of his day, exhibiting his work widely. He painted various subjects but is best known for his circus pictures. They have great strength and vigour and sometimes an unconscious Surrealist air: for example, in Carnival Athlete (c.1930, Pompidou Centre, Paris) some of the bowler-hatted figures are similar to those seen in Magritte's paintings.

Subjects: Art.

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