Jean-Siméon Chardin and Charles Laclef: The passion of one feeds that of the other, through the prism of an ever more ambitious quality standard. Even today, each painting is created with the same care, in the workshops of Le Mans.
Since 1720, Lefranc Bourgeois has never stopped reinventing itself and inspiring artists to offer them the power to reveal their emotions: the purest colours, the additives that transform colours into creative matter and the tools & accessories that make it possible. Between passion, improvement and expertise, discover the history of Lefranc Bourgeois know-how...
BETWEEN CHEMISTRY AND PASSION
In order to meet the expectations of every enthusiast, Lefranc Bourgeois continues to perfect its colour standards. If Lefranc Bourgeois oil is so coveted, it is because it has reached an unequalled quality. Each oil respects strict production conditions that make it pleasant to work with and not harmful to the painter. Each colour is methodically tested to maintain a standard of excellence.
For the Lefranc and Bourgeois families, colour is not a profession. It is a passion that has lasted for more than 3 centuries. A passion for research, development and challenges. This is why Lefranc Bourgeois is much more than a colour merchant: it is the transformation of colour into emotion.
These 300 years of know-how have enabled Lefranc Bourgeois to shake up the History of Art. Three centuries that have allowed us to define our quality standards. Anxious to offer the painter a material that will render grace to his art, each colour is made with particular care.
THE LOVE OF THE RAW MATERIAL
In the beginning, the colour grinder was a profession in its own right, an art that had its origins in antiquity and required a real know-how. These specialised craftsmen-chemists were indispensable to the colour merchants in order to offer pure, intense pigment of superior quality.
Charles Laclef proposed the production of so-called "fine colours" as early as 1720: these are paints made from pure pigments, ground for a longer period of time in order to obtain the exceptional fineness that was to seduce all artists.
But colour is not the only core business of the brand, which since 1830 has been interested in the production of varnishes. Thanks to its privileged relationship with artists, it developed a range of varnishes specifically adapted to the protection of paintings.
LEFRANC BOURGEOIS, CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE
The creative and visionary spirit of Lefranc Bourgeois is not new! Tracing its history, it is as many ranges, formulations and researches to push back the limits and give to the painters a total freedom of expression. One of the major innovations of Lefranc Bourgeois is the development of the screw cap. A state of mind that will never leave the brand.
INITIATOR OF A METAMORPHOSIS
It was thanks to the metal industry, which exploded during the industrial revolution, that the way in which colour was used underwent a real revolution.
Contained for centuries in pigs' bladders, the colours could only be kept for a short time and were difficult to transport.
In collaboration with the inventor, Lefranc was the first brand to market the screw-top tube with a tin cap, allowing the paint to be preserved hermetically. This innovation allowed the Impressionist movement to flourish, glorifying the landscape painted outside the studio.
Practical, innovative and easy to transport, the tubes were the walking companions of painters who criss-crossed the countryside to capture the moment, the light. The plein air was never more in vogue than during this period.
PREPARATION OF BINDERS
Thanks to industrialisation, the range of colours is constantly expanding. Texture agents and binders, called mediums, are diversifying.
Indeed, oil paint, mainly composed of crushed pigments and linseed, safflower or poppy seed oil, takes several days to dry and has a strong potential for miction: the rendering once applied to the canvas depends entirely on the way it has been made.
The development of mediums will allow the painter more freedom and the possibility of taming the use of oil paint: it is the result of a real know-how, the pillar of the success of a range of oil paint, with unique and remarkable colours.
After the war, paste mediums developed more and more: these products, which are added to the paint, transform it into a painting material according to the painter's research in terms of expression, finish, texture or opacity.
A REVOLUTIONARY FORMULA
During the 20th century, the brand sought to push back the limits of the field of possibilities in painting. It revived the Flemish and Venetian mediums popularised by Italian painters. She also developed varnishes and transparent paints.
With this innovative impetus, in 1954 she developed the iconic Flashe, the first vinyl colour in the fine arts industry, with unique properties. This acrylic-like paint had the unique feature of transparency, multi-substrate application and an extra-matte finish that was revolutionary at the time. Thanks to it, painters were no longer limited to oil paint.
Later in the 1980s, Vasarely, a great master of optical art, participated in making the properties of Flashe even more exceptional in collaboration with Lefranc Bourgeois' chemical experts.
SAFETY AT THE HEART OF RESEARCH
Developed by Lefranc Bourgeois in 1922, the famous titanium white historically replaced silver white, which was highly toxic due to its lead content, and zinc white, which had less coverage.
This bright white paint with a neutral undertone offers intense luminosity.
A century-old colour, its exceptional coverage and smoothness make it an essential colour in the Lefranc Bourgeois paint palette.
As soon as it was launched, it was immediately adopted by artists.
EXPERTISE IN THE SERVICE OF ECO-RESPONSIBILITY
Lefranc Bourgeois has always listened to the needs of painters and has worked closely with them from the time of Chardin to that of Vasarely, via Dufy and many others. The brand has always been keen to offer new colours, new mediums and formulations that are constantly reinvented or updated.
Today, the Lefranc Bourgeois ranges offer the possibility of painting with alternatives to cadmium. A heavy metal, this toxic and highly polluting pigment is traditionally used to create yellow and red, giving them a depth and luminosity that is difficult to match.
As these pigments are highly sought after by artists, it took Lefranc Bourgeois 12 years of research to develop a cadmium-free colour palette: the colour retains its original pigment but is chemically separated from the cadmium.
After being the very first brand to launch cadmium-free colours (in 2017, with the relaunch of Lefranc Bourgeois oil paints), the brand extended its scientific expertise to its gouache range and launched the first cadmium-free gouaches in 2020.
Lefranc Bourgeois is as aware of the world around it as it is today. Its commitment to research and sustainability is anchored in its know-how in order to go ever further. The brand never ceases to inspire today's artists and allow them to express their creativity with bold, innovative colours that are in line with current environmental and health issues. These centuries of expertise have made Lefranc Bourgeois a world leader in the Fine Arts industry: it has the largest paint factory in the world located in Le Mans, France, and produces more than 15 million tubes of paint per year.