Jean-Julien Lemordant: The “Painter with Closed Eyelids”

There have been many artists who suffered from visual impairments and disorders, such as Piero della Francesca, or Claude Monet. For most, physiological aging was the cause of blindness. However, for Jean-Juliean Lemordant there was a very different cause. He became famous during World War One as the “painter with closed eyelids”.

After training at the art school in Rennes and then Paris, Lemordant specialized in painting Breton life. Using bright colors, he had an interest in Impressionism. In 1914 he was mobilized as an officer of the 41st French infantry regiment. On October 3rd of that year he received a severe injury near Neuville-Vitasse in norther France: a bullet each to the left hand, right knee and head. He remained on the battlefield for three days before being removed by German stretcher bearers.

The head injury left him with a severe brain injury, and afterwards Lemordant ceased all artistic production. However, he put his image of a war-wounded soldier to good use. In 1917 he received the President of the French Republic, lying in bed and in full military dress amidst his paintings during an exhibition in Paris.

He was chosen for propaganda travels in the USA, spending several months there between 1918 and 1921. He lectured on French art and describing his work during exhibitions in New York and Chicago.

Read more about Lemordant, and the surprising twist at the end of his tale, in Creative Minds in the Aftermath of the Great War: Four Neurologically Wounded Artists (Maingon C, Tatu L.) here.

An article by Jonathan Steffen on the Neurological disorders suffered by the writer Pavese can be found here in the same book.

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