“Who told you that one paints with colours? One makes use of colours, but one paints with emotions.”
–jean-baptiste-siméon chardin (1699-1779)
As a former fine art and antiques dealer, I had the pleasure of selling 18th- and 19th-century French art and antiques at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, as well as procuring fine period art for private collectors worldwide. Although I no longer do this on a full-time basis, I am delighted to offer a small selection of fine French academic art through this site. These will include 18th- and 19th-century French academic drawings, prints, and paintings by artists who exhibited at the prestigious Salon de Paris and are represented in the world’s finest art museums. There will also be an occasional piece from other European countries, such as England and Germany, as well as a few pieces from my former gallery, Andrea Fisher Fine Art.
Art pieces available for purchase are in the process of being posted and will include works by the following artists:
Gilles Demarteau (1722-1776, Engraver to the King), Louis-Marin Bonnet (1736-1793), Pierre Carrier-Belleuse (1851-1932), and Albert de Belleroche (1864-1944). (Note: Among the works available by Demarteau are a pair of chalk-manner engravings, printed in sanguine, with Royal provenance. These same prints are housed in the Musée du Louvre.)
For the purpose of historical reference, noted pieces which I have sold will also be included to these pages. Among these are a sculpture by Alexandre Falguière (1831-1900) and a painting by French academic artist Charles-Amable Lenoir (1860-1926), who is considered by scholars to be the finest disciple of William Bouguereau. Additionally, from my personal collection, I am delighted to share an image of an 18th-century French engraving by the noted rococo artist, François Boucher (1703-1770, First Painter to the King). The Boucher engraving is from the important collection, Recueil Jullienne, and is after Jean-Antoine Watteau’s stunning drawing La Troupe Italienne.
It is my great pleasure to discover and study art from these periods, as well as share their beauty and history with others. I hope these pieces move you, as they have moved me.
CHARLES-AMABLE LENOIR (1860-1926)
French Academic Classical Artist
Nymph With Garland
Charles-Amable Lenoir was born on October 22, 1860, in Châtellaillon (a small locality near La Rochelle). In 1882, Lenoir left for Paris and was soon admitted to L’École Nationale des Beaux-Arts. He also entered the Académie Julian, where he studied under the acclaimed William Bouguereau, with whom he would become a friend and colleague, as well as his finest disciple. In 1895, Lenoir had the honor of painting a portrait of Bouguereau’s wife, Elizabeth Gardner, who was a great artist in her own right. An acclaimed portrait painter, Lenoir was medaled in 1889, when he obtained the Second Grand Prix de Rome, second grade, and in 1890, with the Second Grand Prix de Rome, first grade.
Lenoir’s paintings possess gorgeous tonalities and haunt their viewer with nuanced brush strokes that magically transform a canvas into life. Similar to Bouguereau’s paintings, they capture the soul of their subject. Housed in exemplary private art collections and museums worldwide, his works continue to inspire and enchant.
ABOUT THIS PAINTING:
Lenoir’s Nymph with Garland sold in my gallery, Andrea Fisher Fine Art, where it received museum interest. It is considered to be one of Lenoir’s finer works, as it is closer in style to Bouguereau than some of his other pieces, in which the artist employed a looser brush stroke. I am grateful to my colleague, the renowned art scholar and author, Fred Ross, for authenticating this painting for my client. Mr. Ross is the foremost scholar in the world on William Bouguereau, coauthor of William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné of his Painted Works, and the founder of the online museum, Art Renewal Center.
I have been haunted by the beauty of this painting for many years; first when I had the gift of living with her, and to this day, where she lives in my memory. At a later date, I will post on my blog, a piece that I wrote, inspired by the painting and titled, “Is That You My Beautiful Eugénie?” Eugénie Lucchesi was the artist’s wife and muse and it is my belief – from living with the painting and studying Lenoir’s oeuvre – that this Nymph is indeed the artist’s wife, Eugénie.
ALBERT DE BELLEROCHE (1864-1944)
Welsh born Painter and Lithographer, lived in England and Paris
Oil on canvas – with an inscription on the back to his mistress, Lili – in its original frame it measures 29″ tall by 20.25″ wide –
– available –
Albert Belleroche was born in Swansea, Wales on October 22, 1864. A descendant of the ancient French noble family, the Huguenots, he was a painter of portraits and genre scenes, a draughtsman, and a noted lithographer. At the age of 18, a young Belleroche was invited to study painting at the prestigious studio of Carolus-Duran in Paris. By 1887, he exhibited his first painting at the Salon, and, in 1894, became a member of The New English Art Club in London. (The New English Art Club was founded in 1885, as an alternative venue to the Royal Academy. Its members included John Singer Sargent and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.)
Belleroche was a founding member of the Salon d’Automne, which was similar to The New English Art Club, in that it offered an alternative venue for artists who were breaking from traditional, academic principles. There, he exhibited alongside the Impressionists. Respected by his peers, Degas purchased his work; and the French state acquired one of his paintings for the Luxembourg Gallery. Belleroche shared both a friendship and favorite model, Lili Grenier, with Toulouse-Lautrec. Lili would become, not only Belleroche’s muse, but also his mistress. He was also a life-long friend of the acclaimed American painter, John Singer Sargent. The two artists shared studios in Paris and London and are said to have influenced each other; Sargent both admired and was inspired by Belleroche’s use of light.
By the year 1900, Belleroche focused his artistic efforts on lithography and became a leading figure in the field of lithographic portraiture. In lithography he achieved a delicacy of line, nuance in shading, and subtleties in tone and color that were comparable to painting. Because of this, they were termed ‘the rival of painting’. Belleroche’s drawings, paintings and lithographs are part of the permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tate Gallery. Additionally, le Musée d’Art et d’Histoire d’Orange exhibits an extensive and exquisite collection of the artist’s work, which were donated by Belleroche in his later years. In 2001, the San Diego Museum of Art organized a marvelous exhibit, from the museum’s collection of over one hundred twenty lithographs, titled The Rival of Painting: the Lithographs of Albert Belleroche. The exhibition catalogue, written by the museum’s Curator of European Art, Steven Kern, is a beautiful tribute to Belleroche’s lithography and to Belleroche, the artist. I highly recommend this catalogue to those who admire the artist and wish to learn more.
ABOUT THIS PAINTING:
This gorgeous, bursting with life painting, captures the soul of a young, spirited Moulin Rouge dancer. Its life-affirming energy – its movement – emanates beyond the canvas. A stunning work of art, Belleroche achieves a perfect balance between tone and color, as well as academic lines and loose brush strokes. The result is a timeless and most sensuous painting. The painting was a gift to his lover, Lili, and written on the back of its frame is the artist’s personal inscription. Now, it is a love letter!
Below are two exquisite examples of Albert Belleroche’s lithography; both from my personal collection. The woman on the right is the beguiling Lili.
“tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;”
-john keats (1795 – 1821)
ode to a nightingale
LOUIS-MARIN BONNET (French, 1736-1793)
Nu au drape
18th-century French, chalk-manner print after François Boucher’s drawing of 1767, titled Nu au drape.
This finest-quality, 18th-century French chalk-manner print (also called crayon-manner) uses black and white inks on blue paper to beautifully capture the sensuous and fluid contours of Boucher’s original drawing.
Using fine toothed roulette wheels to roll dotted patterns onto copper plates, the chalk-manner printmakers created the illusion of an original pastel drawing. The colors and textures achieved through this innovation in printmaking made it possible for an art loving public to afford works similar in poetic beauty to the coveted original drawings created by the great 18th-century French rococo artists. Interestingly, these prints were so exquisitely executed that they too became works of art in their own right.
This print is also in the permanent collections of The Art Institute of Chicago. It was a great pleasure to have lived with this beautiful work of art, until it found its new home.
Louis-Marin Bonnet and his colleague, Gilles Demarteau (who was Court Engraver to King Louis XV), were considered to be the most important engravers of two-color graphic reproduction techniques in 18th-century France. Delicately capturing the colors and textures of chalk drawings, they presented their prints in beautiful mattes; even the sophisticated connoisseur would have believed these to be drawings rather than prints. Bonnet is also noted for creating a white ink that didn’t discolor. As a result of this invention, his prints successfully introduced the color white as the third color to the technique of chalk-manner engraving. The artist went on to create a stunning oeuvre of multiple-plate chalk-manner prints.
The art scholar Jean Adhémar states, on page 135 of his text Graphic Art of the 18th Century, published by McGraw-Hill, 1964: “Louis-Marin Bonnet developed the process still further, and engraved in the ‘pastel manner’. He boasted his ‘secret’ in 1769, but had begun using this method in 1767, after trying to perfect the process for several years. Bonnet was born in Paris in 1736 (and died at Saint-Mande in 1793), studied under François (1757) and then under Demarteau, and began by inventing a method of printing to give the effect of a drawing a deux crayons, on blue or grey paper (in about 1767). His process for imitating pastel drawings ‘complete with all the colours, both light and dark, completely deceives the eye and equals the originals for the freshness and liveliness of the tints’. These are skillful facsimiles, which do indeed deceive the eye, especially when they are framed. Bonnet made reproductions after Boucher, and later after Huet, but his most successful piece is undoubtedly the famous Head of Flora achieved by a combination of different techniques and eight separate printings.”
I am delighted to announce that Bonnet’s famous 18th-century, pastel-manner print Head of Flora (Tête de Flore) and its pendant Head of a Woman (Tête de Femme) are available to purchase and will be posted shortly. These are rare, original 18th-century pieces, and are seldom seen together.
Tête de Flore is part of the permanent collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Rijksmuseum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. It has also shown at the Met, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Gallery of Art.
For those with further interest in 18th-century French printmaking, I highly recommend the exquisite book Colorful Impressions, The Printmaking Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France, by Margaret Morgan Grasselli of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Chronicling the museum’s 2003-2004 exhibit of 18th-century French prints, the book explores the technical developments and aesthetic contributions made by the printmakers of this era. Pages 68 through 71 are devoted entirely to Louis-Marin Bonnet’s Tête de Flore. These pages include photographs of the eight progress proofs, as well as Bonnet’s written account of his methodology.
CONRAD KIESEL (1846-1921)
German Academic Artist and Court Painter to Emperor Wilhelm II
Le Billet Doux (The Love Letter)
PROVENANCE: Former collection of Sir William and Lady Elsie Coates, Belfast, Northern Ireland
A student of architecture, Kiesel was an accomplished sculptor before he became a noted painter. He studied painting under Wilhelm Sohn and moved to Berlin in 1885. A superb portraitist and genre painter, he was an educator at the Berlin Academy of Arts and received painting commissions from Emperor Wilhelm II. He submitted works to the annual Great Art Exhibition in Berlin and the Glass Palace Exhibitions in Munich. In 1900, he received an honorable mention at the World Exhibition in Paris. Kiesel is noted for his exceptional ability to depict textures and fluidity in fabrics, as well as elegant women whose expressiveness exudes both warmth and passion.
ABOUT THIS PAINTING:
I would believe that Kiesel, the man, had a great respect for women; as the ladies who live in his paintings emanate a sincere feeling of warmth, intelligence, and graciousness. As one can see, Le Billet Doux demonstrates this beautifully. The details in textures and patterns are as stunning and poetic as her delicate fingers, which gingerly hold a sumptuous fabric in one hand and the painting’s focal point, a love letter, in the other. How can one not fall in love with this love letter? The beauty is further heightened by the rich colors of the weighted fabrics, background, and the woman herself. However, it is her gentle spirit, in contrast to all of this density and richness, that transforms this painting into a poem.
GILLES DEMARTEAU (1722-1776)
Graveur des Dessins du Cabinet du Roi (Engraver to the King)
18th-century French chalk-manner print by Gilles Demarteau
– also known as Gilles Demarteau The Elder –
After a chalk drawing by Jean-Baptiste Huet. Print Number 493.
from my personal collection
The chalk-manner prints are remarkable in capturing the delicate and nearly translucent lines of original pastel drawings. Replicating color and texture, these exquisite renderings created the illusion of a chalk drawing. It was a feat of trompe l’oeil! To further the illusion, the engravers presented these prints in exquisite color-coordinated mats. The matted prints, framed and seen under glass, fully tricked the eye into believing this was an actual pastel drawing. The chalk-manner technique was developed to allow art enthusiasts of the middle class to own a rendering of the coveted original chalk drawings, which were popular among mid-18th-century French nobility and wealthy art collectors. Ironically, these gorgeous renderings, which captured the ephemeral quality and spirit of an original chalk drawing, were so exquisite that they too became desirable works of art in their own right, especially among the upper class. Eighteenth-century French chalk-manner prints are part of the permanent collections of art museums worldwide, including the Musée du Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art, Washington.
Demarteau’s profound contribution to this form of printmaking, and his exquisite oeuvre, led to his becoming the preeminent engraver of his time.
THE TECHNIQUE BEHIND THE METHOD:
Prior to the creation of chalk-manner printmaking, engravers were using the burin and etching, which gave the appearance of line drawings. Since those techniques were ineffective in rendering the qualities of chalk on paper, new tools and techniques were required. The roulette, a small wheel with very fine teeth (along with other tools, previously used in decorative metalwork) marvelously captured the quality of soft powdery chalk on grainy paper.
MORE ABOUT DEMARTEAU:
Master engraver, Gilles Demarteau (1722- 1776), was born in Liège, to a family of armourers. He arrived in Paris around 1739, where he joined one of his brothers who was working as a goldsmith. As a printmaker, he created in the fashionable style of genre engravings with his passion being studies of women.
The chalk-manner style of printing, called crayon-manner in England, is attributed to Bord and Knapton, 1735, London and was further developed by Jean-Charles François, a French engraver from Nancy. François brought these techniques to Paris in 1749. It was there, in his workshop, that Demarteau began printing in the chalk-manner style. Demarteau, who was an exceptionally skilled engraver, refined and perfected the art of chalk-manner printing, raising it to a level of technical prowess and poetic beauty which captured the soul of drawing. In 1767, Demarteau became an associate of the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and, in 1769, an Academician.
He was also a friend and colleague of the great, French rococo painter and draughtsman, François Boucher. Boucher was First Painter to the King and Demarteau was Engraver to the King. Their relationship was such that Demarteau not only created prints after Boucher’s drawings, but François Boucher also sketched drawings solely for his friend to engrave. Remarkably, Boucher gave Demarteau permission to embellish these works!
Demarteau’s oeuvre is extensive and stunning. In less than twenty years, he engraved one thousand plates! The majority of his chalk-manner prints are after Boucher’s drawings, although many were rendered after another noted painter and draughtsman, Jean-Baptiste Huet. The above work is from my personal collection and is a gorgeous example of a Demarteau print after Huet. With exquisite delicacy and evanescent lines, once again the printmaker creates magic, while alluding to a chalk-drawing. I am thrilled to live with this exquisite piece, its beauty takes my breath away.
pieces by demarteau after boucher will be posted shortly.