April 01, 2012

The 21st Annual Salon du Dessin

It was my great pleasure to be able to visit the 21st annual Salon du Dessin during my last week in Paris.  Considered the premier showcase in the world for Old Master Drawings, it is also a treasure trove of exquisite examples of works on paper from Medieval illuminated manuscripts to 20th Century graphite sketches.  Not only was I able to attend the festive opening soirée I could also return again to peruse the offerings with more time and smaller crowds.

Once again the Salon was held in the beautiful and historic Palais de la Bourse - the former stock exchange now functioning as a very upscale meeting and event space.  In recent years the fair has been the centerpiece for the Semaine du Dessin - a whole week of special shows and functions all focused on drawing and involving museums and cultural spaces throughout the city.

I would have a very hard time choosing my one favorite piece from the show, but there were several that would be in the running.  A pencil, ink and wash drawing of "Le Corbeau et la mort (The Crow and Death)" done by Gustave Doré in 1883 as an illustration for Edgar Allen Poe's "The Raven" and featured on the stand of Didier Aaron & Cie, Paris, was equally intriguing and creepy.  The venerable British gallery, Agnew's, offered a charming 18th Century drawing in sanguine of young woman sleeping in a chair "Jeune femme endormie" by Louis-Roland Trinquesse.  And a watercolor sketch of an armchair on the stand of Talabardon & Gauthier, Paris, was actually a preparatory study for Edgar Degas "La Famille Bellelli" which now hangs at the Musée d'Orsay.

Galerie Terrades, Paris, had a large and lovely charcoal drawing by Leon Lhermitte entitled "Femme se déshabillant à la lumière d'un chandelle" done in 1888 and exquisitely capturing the very special glow and shadow of the candlelight in the room.  Stephen Ongpin, London (who always has something special on his stand) this year featured a portrait of a young woman drawn in sanguine with touches of blue crayon by Belgian Symbolist Fernand Khnopff (see left).   I know I have gone overboard with favorites but I must mention one more - a pair of extraordinary trompe l'oeuil pen and ink and aquarelle drawings on the stand of Artur Ramon, Barcelona.  Entitled "Ces drolles font bonne chère" (see below) and "L'Aventurier" they were executed in the second half of the 18th Century by Italian Giuseppe Crespi and are marvelous in their detail and charm.

This wraps up my reportage from Paris as it is time to return to New York and to new adventures.  It has been a wonderful visit in every way from the gorgeous spring weather to the plethora of beautiful art to enjoy.  I can't wait for the next time!

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