Emmanuel-Charles Bénézit was born in 1887 into a family sensitive to the world of the arts. His grandfather, a musician, proscribed during the Empire, was a close friend of Victor Hugo, whom he accompanied into exile. His father, Emmanuel Bénézit (1854-1920), who as a child jumped on the poet’s lap, owned a gallery in Paris and wrote the “Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays”: the universally known “BENEZIT” created in 1911 and to which Emmanuel Charles collaborated.
E-C Bénézit has been painting since the age of 6, rubbing shoulders with Pissarro and Sisley at home and signing his first works at 13. After a brief passage in the workshop of JP. Laurens’ studio, he exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants at the age of 20, then at the Tuileries, during the Salon d’Automne. His works sold well at the time. In 1911, he gave drawing lessons and married one of his students, Marie-Solaine Spehner, nicknamed Salomé, 17 years his senior with two children. As a young artist, he was already exhibiting with the great names in painting such as Signac, Van Gogh, Bonnard, Manguin and Redon.
In 1915, when war was declared, he was discharged because of his tuberculosis and left for the South of France for treatment. He settled in Gassin, then moved to Bormes-les-Mimosas and set up his studio at n°3 rue Carnot. The doctors gave him only a few months to live but against all odds, his health improved little by little. He took advantage of this recovery to paint the village and its surroundings.