Pastels, graphite, watercolour and
gouache on a sheet prepared with
etched lines | 106 x 156 mm
Signed with monogram ‘FR’
("incisé à la pointe")
Original frame available
Click image to enlarge
Ancienne collection Holtzer (his sale: Paris, 12-13 November 1896, lot 14 as "Au Salon")
Ancienne collection Henri Duhem
Private collection, Paris
Ottokar MASCHA, Félicien Rops und sein Werk, (München : Langen, 1910), p. 34.
Click image to enlarge
We are proud to present this marvellous mixed-media drawing by Félicien Rops from the collection of Henri Duhem (1860-1941). A friend of the artist, the postimpressionist painter Henri Duhem became more famous for his collecting habit and his taste, than he did as an artist. Tellingly the largest part of the Henri Duhem collection, including works by Claude Monet and Paul Gauguin, resides on today in the Musée Marmottan in Paris. Henri Duhem most probably bought the work in 1896, at the auction of the important Rops collection Holtzer.
"Au Salon" shows a typically Ropsian demimondaine. Seeted in the comfort and protection of an intimate salon in one of Paris's maisons closes, the model shields off her naked breast by means of a fan, in a gesture of invitation rather than of protection. Sensible renderings of a depraved Paris society at the end of the 19th century, images of courtesans and of hedonism, that is the essence of what Félicien Rops is famous for. The Parisian lifestyle, with its splendour and misery was for him the paroxysm of modernity, the illustration of which he dedicated his life to.
Technically complex, the present sheet includes the use of pastels, graphite, watercolour and gouache. Particularly interesting is the etched ground on top of which Rops created an original work. Variations to the pose are known in Rops's graphic work (cf. Rouir 319 or Rouir 789), but no identical composition is recorded. It is generally accepted that Rops experimented with these different techniques, not afraid to use an etched plate as a monotype or as the basis for a unique and original work of art.
Félicien Rops ranks among the most important Belgian artists from the 19th century. A revolutionary spirit, he was one of the founding members of both the Société Libre des Beaux-Arts in 1868 and of the Groupe des XX in 1884. Primarily remembered as an engraver and printmaker, it is the combination of his technical skills as a draughtsman and the intrinsically modern subject matter that, mark the genius of Félicien Rops.