Presentation of a collection devoted to Henry Cros at the Petit Palais in Paris

1. Henry Cros (1840-1907)
Amazon, c. 1900
Molten Glass - 36 x 33 cm,
Paris, Petit Palais
Photo : All Rights Reserved

31/3/09 – Hang – Paris, Musée du Petit Palais – The Petit Palais owns an exceptional group of works by Henry Cros (1840-1907) brought together by the Jacques Zoubaloff donation (1916), the gift in 1985 by Dr. Chadourne of the superb Amazon (ill. 1) and acquisitions made regularly since 2002 : sixty-five drawings, the painting on wood Ariane’s Thread (acquired from the Galerie Esltir in 2005 thanks to interest from the Duthuit bequest) and the Ladies from Thélème, coloured wax, allocated to the museum in 2005. To this, we can add the monumental Vase of Metals, transferred from the Musée Galliera and displayed in the large format gallery on its base from the Manufacture de Sèvres. The entire collection is not usually displayed to the public but, fortunately for museum-goers today, most of it will be accessible until February 2010 in the Symbolist gallery at the Petit Palais, with a hang by Dominique Morel and Charles Villenueve de Janti. The artist’s drawings, displayed in turn by groups, will thus be partially visible, allowing for a greater appreciation of the graphic and watercolour work which is little-known and was constantly linked to Cros’ technical experiments : his couloured waxes, his molten glass as well as his testing with wax painting. Rupert Carabin’s beautiful glass display cabinet holds some of his most precious works (ill. 2) while other larger items, polychromatic terracottas, paintings, drawings and molten glass hang on the walls.

2. François-Rupert Carabin’s glass with
some precious Cros’ works : the coloured waxe Ladies froms Thélème
(at the top),
the molten glass, the porcelain
and the
encaustic painting Bacchante (at the bottom)

Brother of the poet and inventor Charles Cros, Henry Cros was interested in researching new processes or rediscovering old techniques. We can only admire the subtlety and perfection of these productions which associate a reworking of an imaginary Antiquity or Middle Ages with a comprehensive art as revealed both in the molten glass and drawings. The latter, rarely exhibited, are striking in their freedom and very singular treatment of watercolours : the motif and the reference to Antiquity take on a modernity which almost prefigures Neo-classicism (recalling some of Bourdelle’s fine watercolours). The coloured wax works, close to Charles Cros’ poetic universe and to Symbolism in general, avoid falling into a simple Neo-gothic revival style, no matter how respectable it might be : the technical experimentation and the refined inspiration make them masterpieces of the Symbolist period. An artist who was loved by Jules Laforgue, Emile Verhaeren, J.-K. Husmans and admired by Rodin (“one of the most glorious men of 19th century statuary”), Henry Cros highly deserved this tribute at the Petit Palais which we recommend warmly to visitors.

Version française

Jean-David Jumeau-Lafond, mardi 31 mars 2009

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