Local artist dies at 103

Thursday, April 15, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Alice de Boton uses wax, pigments, and a blowtorch to burn an image into the canvas. She began this type of painting, called encaustics, in the 1980s.

People might remember Alice de Boton for her artwork, but for 103 years she lived a life as colorful as her paintings. De Boton died Friday, April 10, 2010, at The Bluffs.

She was born December 25, 1906, in Jaffa, Palestine – now Israel – to David and Reyna de Boton. Her early life was spent in Palestine and Egypt.


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In her twenties, Mrs. de Boton decided to go to Paris to study art. There, she switched her degree to what she considered more practical studies, first chemistry and later law. In 1939, she married Jean Robert Bernard. During World War II, Mrs. de Boton and her husband took refuge in unoccupied France where they joined the resistance along with her brother, Yves. Yves was killed by the Nazis, and Mrs. de Boton took in his daughter Aline, whom she later adopted.

When the war was over, the couple came to the United States and Alice was able to renew her passion for art. She founded the Peninsula Arts and Crafts school in San Mateo, Calif.

When Mrs. de Boton's husband retired in 1969, they moved to Ajijic, Mexico, then Yucca Valley, Calif., and finally Tel Aviv and Arrad, in Israel. In 1989, the de Botons came to Columbia to join their daughter.

Mrs. de Boton dedicated most of her life to her art. She practiced in several mediums, eventually settling into encaustics. Encaustic painting is a technique of mixing pigment with wax and crystal and then burning it into the painting surface.

De Boton once wrote, "I believe that my inner feelings are somehow communicated to the canvas through this technique. For years, I have tried to express my ideas and social comments on canvas, but the results have always been disappointing – not real reflections of my thoughts. I feel that through the medium of encaustic paintings, I am coming closer to my goal.

"To me, the most appealing feature of the process is the flowing, unpredictable blending of the colors that takes place. Very exciting, even bizarre forms are created – forms which cannot be executed in a deliberate, calculated way."

Mrs. de Boton is survived by her daughter, Aline Kultgen of Columbia; two grandchildren, Rachel Hall of Rochester, N.Y., and Daniel Hall of Columbia; four great-grandchildren, Maude, Elly, Kate and Keaton; three nephews, David Chazan of Palo Alto, Calif., Dan Chazan of Haifa and Dody de Boton; and two nieces, Lely Binshtok of Tel Aviv and Leore Shklarsh.

Her husband, Robert; two sisters, Rosa and Marguerite; and her two brothers, Yves and Ygael, died earlier.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Columbia Art League, 207 S. 9th Street in Columbia.

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