Luc-Olivier MERSON (1846-1920) La poésie... - Lot 22 - Osenat

Lot 22
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Luc-Olivier MERSON (1846-1920) La poésie... - Lot 22 - Osenat
Luc-Olivier MERSON (1846-1920) La poésie dans l'Antiquité (Projet de décors pour l'Opéra Comique) Oil and ink on tracing paper mounted on cardboard 33.3 x 56.5 cm Painted circa 1896-98 Oil and ink on tracing paper mounted on cardboard, 13 7/64 x 22 1/4 in Provenance: Collection Raingeard de La Blétière, Pornic (early 20th century). Acquired from the family of the previous owner by the present owner. Luc-Olivier Merson, painter pompier marked by the symbolist and dreamy aesthetics of the Fin de Siècle spirit, is today less known than Puvis de Chavannes, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Maurice Denis, but knew the same success as these last ones as a great painter decorator. Son of the Nantes painter Charles-Olivier Merson, his son Luc-Olivier was a student of Isidore Pils at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, and won the Prix de Rome in 1869. With this diploma and his talent, Merson climbed all the steps of official glory, while remaining attentive to the French avant-garde. Between painter of fashion and painter of conviction, Merson gets involved in the symbolist art tinged with historicism. His 1870 masterpiece The Flight into Egypt, preserved in the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston, is a brilliant example. Painter of all successes, aroused by the state and by everyone, Merson, in 1896, was at the peak of his glory. It was at this time that he conceived the present work. Indeed, following the fire of the Salle Favart in 1887, the architect Louis Bernier commissioned Merson to paint three pictures to revive the Opéra Comique. The whole must be completed for the Universal Exhibition of 1900, to showcase the French know-how. Merson was entrusted with the realization of the three paintings of the Marivaux staircase. For the ceiling, The Hymn, the Elegy and the Song, and for the two walls, Music in the Middle Ages and Poetry in Antiquity. Two of the three studies were previously identified, and the present study for La Poésie, unknown until now, kept by the same family for more than a century, constitutes the missing link of the Opéra Comique commission. In this extensive study for La Poésie, Merson presents in the lower right-hand part an allegory of the Source, embodied by a nymph reclining in a falsely prudish pose and bewitched by Pan, god of Nature, playing his flute at her side. On the other hand, there is a pensive poet lying on a mound, inspired by a muse playing the lyre and a Putto (Cupid in the final version). One notices in this preparatory version the presence of a doe, certainly judged thereafter superfluous by Merson who does not include it in the final version.
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