Maufra spent several years in England, notably in Liverpool, with his father, who wanted him to become a tradesman. He decided to take up painting instead and returned to France in 1883, attracting the attention of Octave Mirbeau in his very first exhibition, and subsequently being noticed by Frantz Jourdain in 1894 and Fontenais in 1901. In 1886, he successfully exhibited two seascapes at the Salon, following which he visited Brittany in 1890, making the acquaintance of Gauguin and Sérusier in Pont-Aven; he collaborated with them on the decoration of the Pouldu Inn in 1894. He maintained his acquaintance with the Nabis group artists Henry Moret and Gustave Loiseau. He travelled in l'Isère, Belgium, and Algeria (1913), as well as Paris, the Ile de France, Brittany and Normandy. From 1895, the Galerie Durand-Ruel assured the success of his work.
Maufra settled in Montmartre for about ten years during which he painted the old quarters of Paris, often around the church of St Séverin. He then turned to Brittany and Normandy for inspiration in keeping with a resolve to paint only from nature, his seascapes in particular finding favour. The influence of the Nabis on his work remains limited except in the 'synthetic' organisation of the composition. He was an admirer of Sisley and Pissarro, whose influence can be seen in his paintings. Maufra, like Valtat, went to some extent beyond Impressionism to become a forerunner of Fauvism in his use of colour.
An important retrospective exhibition of Maufra's work, prefaced by René Domergue, was organised in Paris around 1950. In 2001, his work was represented in the exhibition Painters and the Sarthe Region ( Les Peintres et la Sarthe) held at the Musée de la Reine Bérengère (for the 19th century) and the Abbaye de l'Épau (for the 20th century) at Le Mans. In 2003, his work appeared in the group exhibition Brittany, Land of Painters ( Bretagne, Terre des Peintres) at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Vannes.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Boston: Dusk in Douarnenez; Departure of Fishing Boats
Buffalo: Transport Quittant Le Havre
Chicago: Douarnenez the Town of Light
Cincinnati (AM): The Coast, Bay of Douarnenez (Vue de Douarnenez) (painting)
Le Havre: Moonrise in Brittany
Manchester: Springtime in Lavardin
Montpellier: Hills of Morgat
Mulhouse: Low Tide
Nantes (MBA): La Prairie d'Amont (1888, oil on canvas); Pointe du Raz; Heavy Swell; The Loir Dam in Poncé (oil on canvas)
Paris (Mus. d'Orsay): Brittany Landscape
Quimper (MBA): View of the Port of Pont-Aven (c. 1890)
Rheims: Pointe du Raz