Four Albums by Luc-Olivier Merson Pre-empted by Orsay


11/4/13 - Acquisitions - Paris, Musée d’Orsay - The four drawing ensembles by Luc-Olivier Merson for the illustrations of José Maria de Heredia’s Trophées offered in one lot by Christie’s yesterday, which we feared might be separated (see news item of 7/4/13) will in fact remain together, and permanently preserved for our heritage in a French museum. We should duly thank the Musée d’Orsay which seized the opportunity to pre-empt the ensemble for 83,100€ (including charges). No less than 247 drawings will now join in one fell swoop the many works by this artist already held at the Musée d’Orsay. Fifty of these drawings appear in two volumes, the other two tomes contain 197 preparatory studies, some of which are quite accomplished.


1. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Hercules and the Centaurs
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s

2. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Nature and Dreams
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s


First published in 1893, Les Trophées presented 118 sonnets ; at this time the poet had asked Ernest Millard de Bois Durand to do the illustrations.
Merson’s fifty drawings, sixteen of which are full size, were commissioned in 1895 by the bibliophile René Descamps-Scrive to illustrate a new edition of Trophées in which José Maria de Heredia added two unpublished sonnets and a preface. Unfortunately, it appeared only in 1907, thus, the poet did not live to see it. The luxury edition was published with only 150 copies by the printer Alfred Porcaboeuf.


3. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Rome and the Barbarians
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s

4. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Artemis and the Nymphs
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s


In the other two volumes pre-empted by Orsay, there are many interesting preparatory sketches which are more or less complete, produced by Merson for each composition. The first drafts are generally in pen and brown ink, others in chalk, while the modelli are heightened in wash and white gouache.


5. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Romancero
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s

6. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
One of the 247 drawings contained
in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s


Although Merson is better known for his monumental compositions, notably in 1888 for the (recently restored) Opéra Comique, he was also active as an illustrator. He designed compositions for La Chevalerie and La Chanson de Roland by Léon Gautier, Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, Saint Julien l’Hospitalier by Flaubert and many others. The exhibition L’Etrange Monsieur Merson highlighted the wide diversity of his art.


7. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Several sketches from the 247
drawings in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s

8. Luc-Olivier Merson (1846-1920)
Three of the 247 drawings
contained in the four albums
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
Photo : Christie’s


Version française


Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, samedi 13 avril 2013



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