An unfairly forgotten artist of France’s Belle Époque, Louis Legrand braved the wild cabarets of Montmartre and managed to capture the essence of the era’s exuberance in his prints and caricatures. An artist very much appreciated during his creative heyday, some have come to blame his disappearance from our cultural memory to his long life (Papadakis). While Legrand managed to represent many of the fin-de-siècle fashions of his youth, his creative output dropped significantly after the end of the First World War and the concerns of the world had transformed considerably. Far from the frivolities of turn of the century European culture, the continent had weathered four long years of bloody stalemate and had come out on the other end questioning everything. Less concerned with glitz and glamour, the interwar years were marked with an uncertainty and rebellion best represented by the Dada artists and their Surrealist offspring.
Legrand was born in Dijon in 1863 and lived in France until his death in 1951. A contemporary of artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec, Anquetin and Steinlen, Legrand studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Dijon and moved to Paris in 1884. There he worked as a caricaturist and satirist for La Journee, Le Journal amusant and Courrier francais, and eventually landed in prison briefly due to an obscene satire on Emile Zola, the famous French 19th century author. After these flirtations with controversy Legrand met Felicien Rops who taught him how to make etchings. Legrand used these new skills to produce images for various French journals with a particular penchant for the depiction of dancing girls, Parisian café life and the social scenes of the day. However, he was not confined to these subjects, and over time the artist managed to illustrate the works of some of the 19th century’s most innovative authors including the works of Poe, Maupassant, Baudelaire, Mallarme, Rimbaud and Verlaine.
Louis Legrand has recently been rehabilitated in the public eye with a recent exhibition of his work at the Musee Felicien Rops in France in addition to an accompanying catalog raisonne. The exhibition included many of his most well known engravings, some of which are subtly highlighted with bold colors skillfully but sparingly applied to the subjects’ hair, clothes or background. Most well known for his depiction of the Parisian social scene at the turn of the 19th century, MIR Appraisal Services is fortunate to have one of these engravings in its collection that is available for viewing during appraisal appointments. The limited edition print captures a loving couple in a palm-lined café, closely carousing in the sumptuous setting. Executed in a foggy and almost dream-like way, the artist has managed to capture the fleeting nature of such encounters as well as the doubtlessly smoky atmosphere of an upscale Parisian café. Entitled Faune Parisienne, the print is an etching and aquatint created in 1901.
MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and antiques appraisal company that places a premium on research and client satisfaction. Employing a team of experts knowledgeable in various fine arts objects, MIR’s employees go the extra mile and dig deep into the interesting histories of the pieces brought to their attention by clients. Far from just giving an accurate monetary appraisal MIR offers clients true insight into the deeper value of their treasured items.
Written and Researched by Justin Bergquist
Principal Appraiser: Farhad Radfar, ISA AM
307 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 308
Chicago, IL 60601
“Legrand, Louis.” Grove Art Online
“Louis Legrand: Catalog Raisonne,” on Papadakis Publishing Online