Dantan exhibition at the Galerie Talabardon & Gautier


8/12/09– Art Market–Paris –The traditional exhibition Le XIXe siècle which the Talabardon & Gautier gallery organizes every year is of particularly high-quality this time as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. This special occasion is marked by a double catalogue, a traditional one devoted to the exhibition objects and another highlighting an exceptional ensemble of thirty satirical portraits by Dantan, purchased on opening day by a private French collector.

1. Adrien-Louis-Marie Cavelier (1785-1867)
Cartoon in actual executed size
of the psyche of the Empress
Marie-Louise
, 1810
Pen, watercolor, wash heightened
with Gouache - 305 x 173.5 cm
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et
Gautier

2. Pierre-Jean David, called David d’Angers (1788-1856)
Architecture, 1838
Mudbrick - Diameter : 26.1 cm
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et Gautier


Special notice goes to a cartoon in actual executed size of the psyche of the Empress Marie-Louise (ill. 1), a surprising decorative drawing over 3 metres high, by Adrien-Louis-Marie Cavelier who worked in the workshop of the silversmith Jean-Baptiste-Claude Odiot. The final work, executed by Odiot and Pierre-Philippe Thomire was taken to Austria by Marie-Louise after the fall of the Empire. Unfortunately, it was melted in 1836 with other objects from the same provenance to provide aid for cholera victims.

Another particularly important and attractive object is the large raw clay medallion by David d’Angers representing Architecture (ill. 2) in memory of Charles Percier after his death in 1838 as requested by his friends and students. Except for this unpublished clay work, this composition is known only thanks to the final founding in bronze held in a private collection. Among many other notable works, a drawing by Edgar Degas representing his brother René also deserves special mention but we would like to point out a large troubadour painting by Pierre Revoil representing The Donation of Provence to France, exhibited at the Salon of 1840.

3. Jean-Pierre Dantan (1800-1869)
Louis-Hector Berlioz, 1833
26 x 6.6 x 5.6 cm
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et Gautier

4. Jean-Pierre Dantan (1800-1869)
Louis-Thomas-Jérôme Auzoux, 1836
17.5 x 26.5 x 12 cm
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et Gautier


In concluding, however, we must return to the series of small caricatures by Dantan. These thirty sculptures, each on a neo-gothic base, come very probably from the collection of Prince Maximilian of Bavaria, Sissi’s father. The prince was a refined music lover thus explaining no doubt the fact that most of the figures are from the musical world of that time. These include well-known players and composers (Liszt, Berlioz – ill. 3, Paganini, Strauss,…) as well others who are today forgotten (Domenico Dragonetti, Adrien-François Servais, Auguste-Joseph Franchomme,…), singers (Louis Lablache, Adolphe Nourrit, Paul-Bernard Barroilhet…), a dancer (Auguste Vestris)… The only exceptions are a Self-portrait by Dantan, two portraits of English Lords, that of Maximilian of Bavaria and finally the famous anatomist, Dr. Auzoux, shown dissecting himself (ill. 4) !

5. Jules Sohn
Console representing the duke Max in general of Bavaria’s army,
equiping a canon to shot a beer’ stein
, 1844
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et Gautier

6. Jean-Pierre Dantan (1800-1869)
Théodore Haumann, 1839
25 x 8.5 x 5.3 cm
Paris, Galerie Talabardon et Gautier
Photo : Galerie Talabardon et Gautier


These sculptures are remarkable not only for their artistic importance but also for their technique. The editions reveal an exceptional precision, executed in composition plastique, a stearin plaster invented by the sculptor Jules Sohn in 1839. He produced these in collaboration with Dantan and also was responsible for the neo-gothic bases (ill. 5). There are no other known works by Dantan in this material.
One of the most striking characteristics of these works is obviously their humor. Several of these portraits can in fact be identified thanks to the rebus (picture puzzle) found on the base. The pianist Sigismond Thalberg is depicted with ten fingers on each hand, illustrating his extraordinary talent as celebrated by his contemporaries, including Berlioz who wrote that his playing style allowed one “to say almost that Monsieur Thalberg has three hands instead of two”. The body of Théodore Haumann, a violinist, is in the shape of a violin (ill. 6). There is no end to the amusing details which enliven this sculpture series. The accompanying catalogue offers a thorough study of both their history and iconography and is sure to become an essential reference work on the artist alongside the Musée Carnavalet catalogue by Philippe Sorel.


Didier Rykner, mardi 8 décembre 2009



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