Born in 1900 at Somain in the the north of France, Jean Eve's first attempts at painting date from this fifteenth year/ "No one," he says, "ever taught me anything." He painted, so he though, for distration, to esxape through an amusing game the difficulties of an apprentice's life. He had no intention of becoming an artist.
Eve did his miliary service in Syria, but nothing in his work indicates that he remembers it. (At the time he was interested in watercolors and amused himself with a sort of elementary dot-technique.) On his return to France he found employment as an industrial draughtsman, then as a book-keeper in a foundry and finally as a mechanic in an automobile factory near Paris. In 1924 he saw the Courbet exhibition in Paris. "It hit me so hard," he says, "that it awoke in me a need to paint in earnest, to remake what I saw."
In 1928, Eve made the acquaintance of Kisling, to whom he had been drawn by a book of Jacques Gueene's. From that time on people began to take notice of him and exhibitions of his work were held. At one point he even left the factory and settled down to paint in the neighborhood of Mantes. But he soon turned homeward and went back to earning a living: he has a wife and children to support, and he would be reluctant to paint unless he had the assurance of being able to provide for them. In 1935, through a competitive examination, Eve succeeded in getting a night-job in the Paris toll-house. This guarantees his livelihood and leaves the day free for his art.