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Painter of Paris
Who on earth is Willy James?

For many people, Willy James (1920-2004) is still an undiscovered Parisian painter. Although the name he bears is English, he was Swiss by birth – his actual surname being Rochat.

The first person to discover the talents of Willy James was Oscar Ghez, owner and collector of the famous Musee Petit Palais in Geneva. He befriended the painter and provided him with an annual income under the strict condition that all paintings he created would be delivered exclusively to Ghez. 

Following Ghez’s death, it was found that he had no fewer than 400 paintings, watercolours and pastels in his collection. Willy James remained relatively unknown simply because Oscar Ghez never organized exhibitions for him abroad. This is extremely unfortunate, since his works are reminiscent of the works of the famous painter Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887-1976), who was primarily known in England. His paintings also depict the lives of people in the street, people on their way to a particular destination, often in industrial surroundings.

Now that I have been able to acquire the entire collection of Willy James from the estate of Oscar Ghez, I shall do my best to garner greater international recognition for this unique artist.

Ivo Bouwman