Autoportrait 36x45


Throughout his life, Raymond Debièvre observed the world around him with a perceptive, humourous and poetic eye : his landscapes – the mining villages, the slag heaps, the farms, the harvests, Provence – but most of all the people who inhabit them. His strokes confer vitality to faces, his colours bring men and women to life, his fingers compel all to come forth and recount life in post-war northern France, from the joys of the its festivals to the suffering of the workers in their daily life.




1931 : Birth of  Raymond Debiève and his twin brother, Michel, in Sous le Bois, near Maubeuge (department of Nord). His father, Émile, is a foundry worker. The family live in a house with a garden bordering the Paris-Brussels railway line.

The two children are fervent drawers. This activity is encouraged by the family. Their mother, Madeleine (nee Sol), shows the father the boys’ accomplishments when he gets home from the factory. Their grandfather covers the walls of the octroi where he works with the twin boys’ first works.

1939 : Death of his father, Émile Debiève.

1940-44 : The twins are separated.

1944 : Madeleine remarries Lucien Henneuse, a tile layer.

1945 : Birth of Bernard. Raymond obtains his school leaving certificate, Brevet Complémentaire. He goes on a holiday camp in the Vosges Mountains, and then to Lake Constance.

1947 : School of fine arts in Valenciennes. Charles Bétrémieux (1919-1997) is one of the their professors. One after the other, the twins get first prize in the Competition for the Promotion of Art. Summer –  bicycle trip in Brittany.

1949 : Exhibition in Maubeuge art museum of drawings and monotypes, plaster sculptures, embroidered shirts, ceramics manufactured in Sars-Poteries. M. Boez, the museum curator, buys Raymond’s Saint Francis. Meeting with Father Mériaux.


1951 : Military service, eighteen hard months in Royallieu (camp for aerostat pilots in the 1920s, transit camp for deportees during the Second World War).

1953 : Starts work with the glass-maker Paul Ducatez. Raymond and Michel decorate Georges Carpentier’s bar in Paris.

1954 : Preschool congress in Lille. The Bétrémieux couple and Marguerite Laurent, a preschool inspector, ask Raymond and Michel to create the set for The Firebird, the theme of which the children were to danse to on stage at the Lille opera house.


1955 : First exhibitions at the Mai gallery as well as at the Siècle gallery in Paris.  All the sheet metal and wire pieces are sold.

1956 : Married to Jeannette Martinoli (1923-2006), preschool head-mistress and activist in the Freinet education movement.

1956-58 : Sheet metal sculpture exhibitions at the Giard bookshop in Valenciennes.


1958 : Birth of Raymond’s son, Vincent.


1960 : Exhibition of  his more colourful paintings at the Flandres gallery in Lille.

1962 : Leaves for Provence, Jeanette is posted to Buisson and two years later to Visan.

1963 : Exhibition of gouache and chalk works at the painter Traineau’s workshop in the Vendée region.

1964 : Publication of an article on writing by Jeannette in L’éducateur n°4, an ICEM periodical (Cooperative Institute of the Modern School).

1969 : Exhibition of  sheet metal paintings at the Les chevaux du soleil gallery in Paris.

1975-78 : Bernard exhibits the works of Raymond and Michel in Pompas (department of Loire-atlantique) : cut sheet metal,  paintings from the series Flemish Proverbs – Les Proverbes Flamands, tapestries, terra cotta…

1975 : Raymond spends some time in Sars-Poteries (department of Nord). Annette Deltmotte shows him around the Avenois region.

1976 : At the Enclave art fair in Valréas, Raymond gives Henri Bosco a print of his illustration of Culotte the Donkey. The author invites him to spend a week in Mourmarin to discuss collaboration. The untimely death of  the author of  The Boy and the River puts an end to this project.

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1977 : Exhibition at the Sars-Poteries mill and at La Grange aux ancres in Avesnes (Nord).

1983 : Raymond sets up his last workshop in Rochegude (department of Vaucluse).

1987 : Death of his mother, Madeleine.

1992 : Devastating floods in Vaison la Romaine. These deaths leave their mark on Raymond, he paints a series on this theme.

1996 : Dominique Ayer hosts an exhibition of Raymond’s work in Switzerland at the Ratière gallery, an enormous success.

2006 : Death of Jeannette.

2007 : Publication of Portraits of Artist Painters, editions Ides et Calendes, Neuchâtel.

2011 : Presentation of some of his work in Taulignan. Dies in Orange.


Juillet 2016 : Exhibition in Brantôme

Mars 2017 : Exhibition in Maubeuge

Avril 2017 : Exhibition in Sains du Nord