PIERRE AMBROGIANI (1907- 1985) Award Winning Artist & Sculptor – by James Nicholls – JN Investment Art

Pierre Ambrogiani was born into a modest family in Ajaccio, and when a young boy, the family moved to live in the port area of Marseille.

From the age of 12, he became a telegraph boy.  It was not until 1937 that he decided to devote his life to art.Ambrogiani never went to an art school or academy.  He was self-taught, thanks to his extraordinary talent, hard work and passion for art he became a highly successful recognised artist internationally.

His studio was located at the Cours d’Estienne d’Orves, in the Old Port. He frequently travelled the country with his car that also served as workshop. He held his first major exhibition in the House of Culture in Marseille in 1936, with other Marseille proletarian painters.

He was renowned for his ‘gourmet of colour’ style of art, with thick and oily pasta bright and warm colours and the sun of the South of France. He painted landscapes, coastal areas and people of the South, as well as still life compositions and sea life works.

As a mason, he used the knife and trowel to append his work in blocks of different sparkling colours creating an alchemy of unusual tints, such as the blue sea, the water green, bright orange or yellow sulphur.

Also engraver, he illustrated many books, including My destiny ends at Dawn” the poet Toursky Marseille in 1947 and The bucolic”by Marcel Pagnol.

He participated in the Salon d’Automne where he became shareholder, Salon Painters – Witnesses of Their Time

He was a friend of Marcel Pagnol the famous novelist film maker (Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources), as well as the novelists Jean Giono and André Malraux.

His artist friends included: Pablo Picasso, Maurice Utrillo, Marc Chagall, Georges Rouault, Bernard Buffet, Chaïm Soutine, and Othon Friesz

He received the Prix International de la Biennale de Menton in 1951, the Grand Prix des Peintres Temoins de leur Temps in 1967, and the Prix du Gemail in 1968. There was a major retrospective of the art of Pierre Ambrogiani at the Musee de la Vieille Charite de Marseille in 1973.

Ambrogiani’s work was featured in numerous group exhibitions of contemporary French art in France and abroad from 1948 to 1980 – Paris, Marseille, Toulouse, New York, London, Oxford, Philadelphia, Turin and Zurich.

In 1962 he decorated the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Marseille, with frescoes and stained glass. He designed the postage stamp, Saint-Paul de Vence in 1961.


  • 1937 : Salon d’Automne
  • Painters living witnesses of their time


  • 1936 : First group exhibition at the Maison de la Culture de Marseille.
  • 1946 : Paris
  • 1947 : New York
  • 1973 : Marseille, retrospective exhibition at the Museum of the Vieille Charité .
  • 2008 : Retrospective exhibition at the Palais des Arts, Place Carli, Cours Julien in Marseille on May 8 to August 31.

Prizes, awards

  • 1951 : International Award Menton
  • 1967 : Grand Prize Exhibition of Painters witnesses of their time
  • 1968 : Award Gemmail in “Painter of Light”

Public collections

  • Museum of Fine Arts and Archeology of Chalons-en-Champagne : The port, the Marquisans.
  • Museum of Fine Arts Marseille : Barques.

Museum of Art & History Meudon, Hauts-de-Seine : “The Old Port of Marseille” 1953