Versailles, 18 June 1868; d Alençon, 29 June 1916).
French painter and sculptor.
He was born into a cultivated family of artistic inclination and independent means. He
first studied with his mother, the printmaker and painter Laure Lacombe (18341924),
and received further guidance from the French painters Georges Bertrand (18491929),
Alfred Roll and Henri Gervex, who were family friends. From 1888 to 1897 he spent the
summers at Camaret on the Brittany coast. In 1892 he befriended Paul Sérusier and was
soon attracted to the aesthetic of the NABIS. He painted Breton figural scenes and
stylized seascapes characterized by flat patterns, Japanese print devices, and mysterious,
often anthropomorphic imagery. Familiarity with Paul Gauguin in 18934 aroused his
interest in wood-carving (an interest that may also have been nurtured by his father, an
amateur cabinetmaker) and encouraged him to employ a deliberately crude technique. Known
as the Nabi sculptor, Lacombe explored Symbolist themes such as the cycle of
life and death treated in The Bed (18946; Paris, Mus. dOrsay).
Intrigued by the decorative arts, he created (e.g. Spring, Geneva, Petit Pal., Autumn,
Pasadena, CA, Norton Simon Mus., c. 18945) and commissioned mural projects
throughout his life, notably by Sérusier and Paul Ranson.