Pierre Jean Charles Deval was born August 20, 1897 in Lyon, the third child of a silk merchant, Gustave Deval (1853-1943). As a young man, Deval frequented the galleries of the Luxembourg Palace and the Louvre, as well as the Musée Saint Pierre in Lyon, where he was deeply impressed by the drawings and sculpture of August Rodin. He also visited the Institute of Archeology, where he saw the reproductions of Greco-Latin statues and developed a passion for Greek and Roman myths. These early artistic exposures greatly influenced his later work.
Deval studied art in Paris as student of painter Émile-René Ménard and Lucien Simon. His first show of drawings and portraits of young women was held at the Lyon salon of 1918. In 1921, he befriended Tristan Tzara, writers Andre Breton an dLouis Aragon, and French surrealist poet Jacques Rigaut, who introduced him into the circle of the Dadaism. Deval served as editor of an artistic review in Lyon between February 1921 and June 1922. At the 1921 Salon d’Automne in Paris, which included works by Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, Paul Gauguin, Roussel and Cross, Deval sold his first painting, Ariane, which was purchased by the French Government for the Musee Luxembourg, and hung in the Jeu de Pomme.
In the autumn of 1922, the success of his painting Ariane earned him a two year fellowship at the Villa Abd-el-Tif in Algiers, a residence for painters; he was 25 years old. Having become disenchanted with the Dada group, he began to look for a style of his own. In Algeria, he met and forged a friendship with fauvist painter Albert Marquet, who was twenty-two years his senior. During this period, his paintings ranged from landscapes of Algiers and scenes of Algerian women bathing and dressing to more modern works.
In 1924 he was selected to participate in the Venice Biennale with a group of French artists, including Albert Marquet, Pierre Bonnard, and Maurice Denis. His works of this period featured exotic scenes and cityscapes from Algeria and odalisques. His racially diverse modernist figurative paintings and drawings were condemned by traditional critics as too radical, while his other paintings were condemned by modernist critics as too traditional.
When his fellowship ended, Deval returned to Paris and moved into the studio at 19 quai St. Michel, which Matisse had just vacated. He experimented with different styles, and in 1926 he painted five watercolors of modern Parisian life for a book, L’ecole des indifferents,’ by Jean Giraudoux. He worked as an illustrator for several journals and showed his work in Paris galleries.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Domaine d'Orvès, Deval’s house at La Valette-du-Var, was a gathering place for French artists who worked along the Cote d’Azur and in Provence. At this residence, he kept the company of Henri Bosco, and the painters Raoul Dufy, Marquet, Jean Puy and Willy Eisenschitz. During his time at La Valette-du-Var, Deval solidified his lasting painterly reputation with realistic scenes of Marseille and Toulon, and sensitive paintings of women, children and families. In 1933 he took part in a show in Marseille on Provence, where he continued to show for many years thereafter. He died at his house in 1993.
Musée National des Beaux Arts - Algiers, Musée Ahmed Zabana - Oran, National Museum -Tokyo, British Museum - London