Jean Misceslas Peské took evening classes at the Kiev painting school, then attended the fine arts school in Odessa and in 1891 became a student at the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1901 he married the sculptor Catherine Luchnikova. Entranced by the town of Collioure in the Languedoc region, he returned there often, even between 1910 and 1915 when he was living at Bormes-les-Mimosas in the Provence region. Naturalized in France in 1921, he founded the Collioure Museum in 1934.
He swiftly became close to the elite artists in Paris and gained a certain notoriety. He became friends with Sérusier and Toulouse-Lautrec (who taught him the subtleties of lithography), and, through Félix Fénéon, with Pissaro, who introduced him to etching. Octave Mirbeau introduced him to the Revue Blanche set and to the Galerie Durand-Ruel. Peské was also a friend of Apollinaire. He travelled throughout France often, spending time in St-Tropez, St-Jean-de-Monts (in Vendée), Barbizon, Dinard, and Allonville.
Peské was an artist of many styles, though his use of them was always apposite. His use of bright colours, his preference for simple compositions and his choice of certain subjects (for example, Harvesters at Rest, Young Countrywoman in a Red Apron, The Seine at Vétheuil, and Banks of the Seine), brings him close to the Impressionists; the intimate character of some of his interiors ( The Artist's Wife in an Interior and Breakfast in Bed) brings him close to the Nabis painters; and his use of lively colours with lengthy shadows (as in Flocks and Dunes) brings him close to the Pont-Aven School. He was also a print-maker (making around 60 engravings), and produced watercolours and pastels. Some consider him the equal of Toulouse-Lautrec.
1895 marked Peské's total integration into French artistic life, with exhibitions at the Salon de la Société Nationale and at the Salon des Indépendants. His work was shown at the exhibitions organized by the Nabis painters at the Le Barc de Boutteville gallery, as well as regularly at the Salon d'Automne, Salon des Tuileries and Salon des Peintres-Graveurs. He had his first solo exhibition in 1901, at the Revue Blanche, and was the subject of an exhibition organized by Durand-Ruel in Paris and New York. Posthumous and retrospective exhibitions include: Salon des Indépendants, Paris (1950); Écomusée du Marais Breton Vendéen, La Barre-de-Monts (this exhibition, which included some 80 works, then travelled to the Musée de Tessé, Le Mans in 2002 and to the Musée d'Art Moderne, Collioure in 2003).
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Geneva (Petit Palais)
Morlaix (Mus. des Jacobins)
Paris (Mus. de l'Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris)
St-Tropez (Mus. de l'Annonciade)
Warsaw (Muz. Narodowe)