Recent Acquisitions by the Musée des Avelines in Saint-Cloud

1. Pierre-Georges Jeanniot (1848-1934)
The Traveler Feels Sick
and Has to Sit Down
, 1883
Chinese Ink, Graphite,
rWhite Heightenings - 25.9 x 15.6 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

6/8/12 - Acquisitions - Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines - Several 19th century works have joined the Musée des Avelines since the last news item published on the French site in August 2011. Two of them are by natives of the city, Edouard Dantan and Gaston La Touche, the others evoke Saint-Cloud which attracted not only princes, kings and emperors but also Parisians seeking nature outings and water sports.

Sixteen sheets by Pierre-Georges Jeanniot were purchased from the Chrétien bookshop, faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. These are original drawings for illustrations in the Voyage de Saint-Cloud par mer et par terre by Louis-Balthazar Néel, reedited in 1884. The book, first published in 1748, is a takeoff on the guidebook genre poking fun at the excursions of Parisian simpletons represented in Jeanniot’s drawings with great humor and a colorful sense of the picturesque. By way of an introduction, the first shows a painter portraying "the adventurer". The following describe the traveler before leaving, making some "useful" visits, enjoying a glass of wine and then paying his hairdresser. Once on board, he eats lunch at the foot of the grand mast and has the genial idea of sitting on freshly tarred ropes ; suddenly moved at the sight of two cities, Vaugirard and Issy, which he glimpses from the shipdeck, he feels sick (ill. 1) : "I changed color, and found myself so ill that I had to sit down. Several passengers saw me and asked me what was wrong, if it was the result of my fall or the sea air ? Some teased me, others felt sorry : however one of those who seemed most interested in me, took my flask from my pocket and rubbed my temples (...). I just heard the names of two cities which have been dear to me ; one ruthlessly took from me what the other had pleasurably given me...". The traveler finally arrives at the port of Sèvres and goes off to meet the beautiful Henriette, the purpose of his trip, and, in passing, surprises lovers in the Bois de Boulogne. Two unpublished drawings round out the series : one represents the traveler kissing Henriette’s hand and the other shows him running from one point to another.

2. Jean-Louis Petit (1795-1876)
Rowing Race on the Seine near Saint-Cloud, 1849
Oil on Canvas - 56 x 93 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

Ten of these drawings are accompanied by their engravings. The ensemble, on view at the exhibition Un dimanche à Saint-Cloud between 14 June and 22 July 2012, is a beautiful complement to the Avelines collection which holds about twenty engravings - by Daumier, Vernet and many others - on the theme of the trip to Saint-Cloud in the 19th century. The museum also owns a copy of the 1878 second edition of Néel’s account (completed by Augustin-Martin Lottin), along with twelve etchings by Jules Adeline.
Pierre-Georges Jeanniot, a friend of Degas, whose influence can be seen in a nude at Orsay, was a painter of high society as well as exercicing his skills as a draughtsman and engraver. He illustrated many works, from Les Liasons Dangereuses to Candide, but also Tartarin de Tarascon, collaborated in journals such as La Vie Moderne, La Lutte Moderne, Le Rire and also L’Echo de Paris and became the director of the Journal amusant.

3. Edouard Dantan (1848-1897)
Self-Portrait, 1870
Pastel - 72 x 63 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

Also acquired by the Musée des Avelines in 2011, the Rowing Race on the Seine near Saint-Cloud is a painting by Jean-Louis Petit, purchased by private agreement from Art Valorem in Paris (ill. 2). Known mainly for his series of ports on the English Channel which he illustrates during storms and under twilight skies, Petit also painted between 1845 and 1850 views of Paris and the region, often choosing bridges as a motif, for exemple the one at the Concorde, the Louis XV or here, the Sèvres, seen in the background and underscored by a ray of sun. Emmanuelle Le Bail pointed out a painting by Samuel William Reynolds residing at the Musée de Chantilly which represents the same viewpoint as this one thus confirming, if needed, the geographical location. This oil also reminds us that rowing became popular in the 19th century, taken up by people from all social classes. Boating developed in Paris in the 1830’s and 1840’s ; in fact there was much rivalry between those out for their pleasure and those who considered it a serious sports activity. The first Parisian boating races took place in 1834. Other works, such as Antony Morlon’s Regattas at Asnières (a bit later) evoke these races ; but while Morlon observes the crowds on the banks, Jean-Louis Petit produced above all landscape painting with beautiful lighting.

This canvas rounds out the different views of Saint-Cloud held by the museum, notably a View of Saint-Cloud and the Mont Valérien with the Pont de Sèvres by Sarazin de Belmont. Edouard Dantan offers a winter scene of his city in a painting acquired last year, since then complemented with a Self-Portrait (ill. 3) which had remained until now in the artist’s family, along with the other three self-portraits we have of his : one of them, produced three years later, is in fact very similar to the one at Avelines and shows the artist’s evolution, imparting more life and force into the painting without however changing the composition.
The son of Dantan the elder, a nephew of Jean-Pierre, Edouard Dantan came from a family of sculptors in Saint-Cloud, all well represented in the museum. And although he preferred painting, he included sculptures in his canvases with considerable success. A student of Isidore Pils then of Henri Lehmann at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, he painted mural decorations, genre scenes and was also an illustrator. Dantan painted religious subjects until 1878, including The Annunciation to the Shepherds and The Vocation of the Apostles Peter and Andrew (a deposit from the Hôpital de Saint-Cloud [1]), residing at the Musée des Avelines which also owns - besides two views of Saint-Cloud - a pastel depicting hollyhocks, a technique often employed by the artist. But Dantan was also a talented and prolific portraitist, in search of spontaneity and this self-portrait reveals another aspect of his talented production.

4. Gaston La Touche (1854-1913)
The Lovers, 1893
Pastel - 80 x 48 cm
Saint-Cloud, Musée des Avelines
Photo : Musée des Avelines

Also a native of Saint-Cloud, and who by the way knew Dantan, Gaston La Touche was familiar with the neighborhood of the Nouvelle Athène in Paris, becoming friends with Edouard Manet and Félix Bracquemond, whose influence helped to lighten his palette and made his painting less realist, turning to subjects treating "fêtes galantes", inspired by Watteau, Boucher and the French 18th century in general. Puvis de Chavannes also impacted the painter’s work in a significant way. In 2012 the museum acquired a luminous pastel entitled The Lovers (ill. 4) in which this stylistic transition is obvious, a purchase from the Etienne Bréton gallery. Possibly a preparatory study for a painting held in a private collection in Madrid, the work shows a couple embracing, with the light blending together in colors which are warm and autumn-like, also found in The Lovers and the Swans. Perhaps an illicit love, as suggested by the attitude of the woman who seems to be resisting the man’s advances and turns away. The atmosphere of the Madrid work is very different : more precise, it shows the lovers to one side, framed in a well-defined though vaporous natural setting with a softer and more realistic lighting.
The Musée des Avelines devotes an entire exhibition space to La Touche, from Miraculous Fishing to the watercolor portrait of Joseph Cirasse and is currently preparing a retrospective of his work which should open in 2014. Finally, we would like to point out that Saint-Cloud City Hall holds several décors designed by the artist.

Version française

Bénédicte Bonnet Saint-Georges, lundi 13 août 2012


[1] The Hôpital de Saint-Cloud is currently undergoing construction work ; while the 18th century buildings by Richard Mique surrounding the chapel disappeared long ago, the one replacing them in the 19th century to the left of the façade, of beautiful quality, has just been foolishly destroyed.

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