Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Genius of Grandville, Avant La Lettre Surrealist

J.J. Grandville was born in Nancy in 1803 in a family of artists. His father, Jean-Baptiste Gérard, a miniature painter, took him under his wing. A precocious learner, Grandville devoured Jacques Callot's "Miseries of War" and the political caricatures of the periodical Le Nain jaune (1814-1815) and by the age of 21, he was headed to Paris

Grandville caricatured by Benjamin Roubaud in his "Panthéon Charivarique", 1842, Lithograph, 
13 1/2 x 10 1/2 in. (34.3 x 26.7 cm)
Caption: Grandville’s chin is pointed 
just like the skillful crayon he sharpens
A crayon full of humor when guided by his fingers to paint and mock
His chin does not even compare with the sharpness of his mind

No better place than the streets, the theaters, dance halls and cafés to observe the mores of the Parisian society in the Romantic Period. Five years later, he published Les Métamorphoses du Jour, a book where every character has a human body and the face of an animal. Seventy three drawings and their sharp-tongued captions left no room for the animal to hide behind the man.

         To Each His Own by Grandville, Les Métamorphoses du Jour, Chap. LXVII, Paris, Chez Bulla, 1829   "Lust, gluttony, anger, and the other deadly sins are stigmatized, now with the blow of a hammer, now with the thrust of a stiletto; while the foibles and humors of mankind also receive due attention."N. Ray Gordon

The last two plates of Les Métamorphoses du Jour were considered so subversive against Church and State that they were officially banned from publication in France. Here are the two drawings few of his contemporaries ever saw.

 The Scarab Family,

"Famille de Scarabées"

and A Ferocious Beast or A Friend of the Gazette

"Une Bête Féroce ou un Ami de la Gazette"

He was a driving force, with Honoré Daumier and Charles Philipon, behind two satirical periodicals (gazettes), La Caricature and Le Charivari. His sharp pen and wit soon made him a favorite of the readers. 

After Louis Philippe anointed himself Citizen King, political satirists sharpened their pencils and used the innocent image of a pear to criticize his corrupt and repressive policies. Croquades faites à l'audience du 14 novembre (Cour d'Assises), Philippon, Grandville, La Caricature, volume 3, numéro 56, 21 novembre 1831

In 1835, in response to the government-issued ban on political satire, Grandville refocused his attention on the Parisian society. The two plates below capture a pipe smoking frenzy that cut across social classes at the time.

Variété de Pipes et de leurs Fumeurs, Types Modernes, Observations Critiques - Le Dedans de l'Homme Expliqué par le Dehors, Grandville, 1835

Detail, Variété des Pipes et de leurs Fumeurs, Grandville, 1835

Detail, Variété des Pipes et de leurs Fumeurs, Grandville, 1835

In 1838 Grandville illustrated a translation of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

The Lilliputians are a society of people around six inches in average height. Gulliver sits a Lilliputian on top of the wind cover of his pipe bowl for examination. Another Lilliputian is trying to escape from Gulliver's left pocket.
(Part of this caption was written with our Lilliputian readers in mind)
One of Grandville's many accomplishments was Les Fleurs Animées, a series of images that are both poetic and satirical.

Les Fleurs Animées, Grandville, 1847
Grandville favored the new techniques of end-cut wood engraving and the steam-powered printing press over traditional lithography. These engravings permitted illustrations to appear on the page with text allowing the artist more creative and contextual expression. 

Tobacco, Les Fleurs Animées, Grandville, 1847
On the globe, a tobacco plant grows its roots in AMERIQUE surrounded by its means of consumption: cheroots, cigars, clay, meerschaum and wood pipes, a hookah, tobacco pouches, a match box and la carotte, symbol of the distribution monopoly in France and emblem of all authorized tobacco shops.

But perhaps his most significant contribution was Un Autre Monde, an illustrated fiction filled with creatures born from the land of dreams or from his exalted imagination, a precursor of (much) later surrealist works. 

Printed text illustrated with 36 hors-texte wood-engraved plates all with additional coloring by hand, 146 wood-engravings and 292 pages. 
A  ratio of engravings to pages significantly higher than the prevailing norm.
The full title of the work reads like a manifesto, boldly breaking the strict rules of "Proper Editing and Publishing" : Transformations, Visions, Incarnations, Ascensions, Locomotions, Explorations, Peregrinations, Excursions, Vacations, Caprices, Cosmogonies, Reveries, Whimsies, Phantasmagories, Apotheoses, Zoomorphoses, Lithomorphoses, Metamorphoses, Metempsychoses, and Other Things.

In prose and illustrations best described as rabelaisian,

From a 1565 publication by François Rabelais called 'Les Songes Drolatiques de Pantagruel, ou sont contenues plusieurs figures de l’invention de maistre François Rabelais : & derniere oeuvre d’iceluy, pour la recreation des bons esprits'.
with help from Plume and Crayon

The dialogue between the Plume (the Writer) and the Crayon (the Artist), the Crayon demands “You will allow my wings to move freely through space; you will not impede in any way my flight towards the new spheres that I wish to explore.” The Pen responds humbly: “So you want me to serve purely and simply as a secretary?” — to which the Crayon answers, “Precisely”. The Penknife stays out of the commotion but threatens to use his blade to settle the disagreement.

Grandville chronicles the adventures of a snake-oil salesman and self-anointed God who goes by the name of Doctor Puff.  

Puff introduces himself to the reader with the self-importance expected of a man of his stature: "My name is Puff; enough said." 

God Puff creates two neo-gods in his image, one-armed captain and swim coach Krackq and composer Hahblle. "He forbids them neither the pipe nor the jacket. He even allows them to grow a beard and wear medals". In his position as God In Chief he calls a meeting of the neo-divine triplicity to divide the universe: to Habble the Skies, to Krackq the Seas and Puff stays on Earth.

Krackq's Pipe with a turned wood stem from Saint-Claude of course

 The God in Chief presides over a strangely connected World of worlds...

Smoking a Pipe on The Bridge to the Heavens
 A bridge whose ends a human eye could not embrace and whose main piers were supported by planets leading from one world to another on a perfectly polished asphalt. The 300,000th pile was leaning on Saturn. Habble, who ventured on the bridge smoking his pipe, could confirm that the ring around Saturn is nothing other than a circular balcony where Saturnians come out for a refreshing evening.

As soon as Habble rises to the Heavens his view of the world changes 

I see under me this column surmounted by Fame. Coachmen, water carriers, duchesses, vendors, great lords, common people, the whole world circulates around the monument; I don't see any difference; all seem to me to have the same level. From my point of view Fame is equal to Nothingness.

On Earth, fascinating worlds unfold where Fine Arts are held in high esteem,

The Master straddles his Raphaëlian horse with a long line of disciples hanging on to his every stroke.

man, animal and machine welcomed.

A world where demonstrations against authority appear futile ☹

Smiley😀's Ancestors
a world where some behaviors endure

It’s Venus in Person!

Through the distorsions of Grandville's imaginary worlds there is one familiar object that retains its integrity and it is the Pipe.

In this not so typical Parisian scene women wear men's costumes and smoke pipes and cigars while men stand by their side wearing colorful garments.  
"Our fashionistas will not go out for a stroll without a clay or meerschaum pipe."

At the Spring Ball where the Everlasting is banished (for obvious reasons)

Making his entrance, Fanfan la Tulipe, the eternal jokester, ladies man, free spirit, who makes fun of self-indulging authority and gets away with his wit and a quick draw.
Flowers and Fruits are holding the annual ball to celebrate the return of Spring.
The Pomegranates and the Snapdragons keep guard upfront.

But not everything is well in the Plant World. Dr. Puff stumbles upon the early signs of a Revolution. Flowers AND Vegetables are plotting an uprising.

Up in Arms, Children of the Plant Race. In the Battle of the Refined a Civil War started with a vicious fight between Sugar Cane and Beetroot, dispute that ended only with the intervention (late, alas) of the Carrot. In the background, Tobacco alone maintained an indifferent attitude; he did not stop smoking his pipe throughout the harangue by the Thistle.

In his submarine exploration, Krackq encounters mermaids frolicking under the watchful eye of fantasmagoric creatures. What better ice breaker than this object of much wonder, his pipe?

Illustration from Another World, 1844

Back on solid ground Puff is pleased to discover a world where people are solely defined by their clothing — leather boots, canes and toppers and even a pipe for men, parasols and hats for women. “Why do we even need the rest of the person?” Puff the huckster asks.

Illustration from Another World, 1844

After all this is the world where Clothes Make the Man or the Woman.

An Easel, a Paint Box, a Palette, a Brush and a Pipe make the Painter. The painter is waiting for brooms to bloom.

In the Skies, the Lightning Rods in charge of Preparing Summer Storms do Smoke a Pipe,

Lightning Rods preparing Summer storms from Obese Clouds

Puff stumbles upon a horse race between top ranked equestrienne Duchesse d'Alezan, the inventor of a Double Pressure Machine to Make Grooms Lose Weight and her groom.

Duchesse D'Alezan rides Pichenette, daughter of Chip of the Old Block and Magic Lantern while smoking her pipe; her groom is riding Marionette. No better horses in the stud-book.

In one of his most mind bending experiences Dr. Puff explores an enchanted forest and comes across Fish going Fishing.

April Fools Fish
The water was filled with men and women who swam quickly towards the bait they were offered:
medals, epaulets, purses filled with gold coins and pipes. They swallowed everything with deplorable voracity. A quarter of an hour later the fish were done fishing; they packed their baskets, threw their rods over their shoulders and walked away.
When Grandville passed away in 1847, he had already written his own epitaph:

"Here lies J. J. Grandville. He could bring anything to life and, like God, he made it live, talk and walk. Alone, he could not find his path."

John Tenniel the illustrator of Lewis Caroll's Alice's Adventure in Wonderland (1864) and Through the looking glass and what Alice found there (1871) was inspired by Grandville's work.

André Breton who co-founded Surrealism in 1924

recognised in Grandville a precursor and inspiration for the movement.

Great Tournament between Spades and Hearts in the presence of their respective Kings 
Another World, 1844.

So did Max Ernst who said: "A New World is Born; May Grandville be Praised".

                                    😈 😑 😇                          

Lightning Rod Waiting for an Obese Cloud to Prepare a Storm

                                                     🇫🇷   😷  🇺🇸


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rococo Pipe Rocks and Scrolls

In response to the formal, classical style embraced by King Louis XIV of France

 Louis XIV was schooled in Classical Art, Greek and Roman, from an early age. Portrait of Louis XIV (1638-1715) as Jupiter Conquering the Fronde.


the Rococo Movement blossomed under his successor King Louis XV, a movement best embodied by French architect Germain Boffrand 

Portrait of Germain Boffrand by Lambert-Sigisbert Adam

and his decoration between 1735 and 1740 of the Hôtel particulier belonging to the Prince of Soubise in the center of Paris,

 Le Salon de la Princesse, Piano Nobile, Hôtel de Soubise, Paris

Architect and Designer François de Cuvillies (1695-1768) who lived in Paris and Versailles during the transition of power (and taste) between King Louis XIV and King Louis XV, introduced the Rococo Style to the Wittelsbach Court upon his return to Munich in 1725. The style quickly spread to other European Courts.

Graceful asymmetry and absence of straight lines in the Designs for Ewer-shaped Ornaments by Franz Xaver Habermann (German, 1721–1796)
Etched and engraved
on white laid paper by Johann Georg Hertel (German, ca. 1700–1776)
Augsburg, Germany, ca. 1750
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution

"German architects adapted the Rococo style but made it far more asymmetric and loaded with more ornate decoration than the French original. The German style was characterized by an explosion of forms that cascaded down the walls. It featured molding formed into curves and counter-curves, twisting and turning patterns, ceilings and walls with no right angles, and stucco foliage which seemed to be creeping up the walls and across the ceiling. The decoration was often gilded or silvered to give it contrast with the white or pale pastel walls." (*)    

What about pipemakers and jewellers? Did they adapt the design of their pipes, wind covers and ferrules to the demands of the aristocracy of the time? did porcelain modelers adopt new designs? How did wood carvers respond?

In 1756, in the artistic effervescence of the Bavarian Rococo movement, Franz Anton Bustelli (1723-1763), the Modellmeister, or head modeler at the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory became the first artist to bring Rococo to porcelain. 

Bucolic Rococo Scene from the Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, 1756. In contrast:  "The rhythmic grace of the style did not come easily to Meissen which, founded in 1716 and under the artistic direction of the same two men for decades, remained essentially baroque in outlook. (J. G. Horoldt, appointed in 1720, served until his retirement in 1765; Kandler from 1731 to his death in 1775.) Whatever accommodation they might have reached with the newer style was foiled by the Seven Years War(1756-63),which disrupted production and displaced workmen. But to the younger factories, starting up at the height of the rococo, in mid-century, the idiom came naturally." Clare Le Corbeiller(**)
Nymphenburg Manufakturmarke embossed label from 1754 to 1894

1756 was also the year when Nymphenburg mastered the process of hand painting and glazing its porcelains

"During the 17th and 18th century Europe imported large quantities of porcelain from China and much effort was expended to discover the secret of hard porcelain manufacturing. First in Europe,  
German Chemists E. Walther von Tschirnhaus and Johann Friedrich Böttger
succeeded in creating glazed porcelain from white clay found in the vicinity of Coldtitz, close to Dresden. On the basis of that discovery the first porcelain factory was founded in the small town of Meissen in 1716. Despite threats of capital punishment for anyone leaking the hard-paste porcelain "recipe", porcelain factories opened first in Vienna (1718) and later in Höchst (1746), Nymphenburg (1747), Berlin (1751), Ansbach (1758), Weesp (1759)". From "The Secret of the White Gold" by Sarah Bosmans. First Meissen pipe on factory record is dated 1765.(***)

In France, the Manufacture Royale de Sèvres was founded by Louis XV in Paris in 1756, as a successor to Porcelaine de VIncennes. Sèvres started manufacturing hard-paste porcelain in 1771 and a search of its archives places the earliest commissions as four pipes in 1782 and less than 50 pipes produced until the Révolution of 1789.
"Two Face" Pipe Head, 1760-63 by Franz Anton Bustelli  
Dimensions: 6.4 x 6.1 x 4.2 cm (2 1/2 x 2 3/8 x 1 5/8 in.). 
Marked asymmetry of facial features. 
An imberb left side reveals a pointed ear only a Satyr would sport. 
Courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Jewellers designed the most fanciful gilt wind caps

Germany- second half 18th century. Polychromatic floral decor and a raised, frontal portrait 
of a devilish-looking satyr whose face is circumscribed by flowing foliage. 
Gilt thumb lift wind cover of a fleeing deer and dog. Prob. Höchst.[Ben Rapaport]
The Wolfgang Cremer collection

 and ferrules,


German- Mid to Late 18th century. Moulded with rocailles and a gilt-edged scrollwork cartouche to the front painted with a peasant scene,the seated peasant smoking a pipe, surrounded by scattered flower sprays. A high-domed, gilt wind cap with thumb lift of what might be Gabriel blowing his horn, and a matching gilt shank ferrule.[Ben Rapaport]

Pipe carvers answered the call of the Rococo sirens with panache in boxwood, basswood and other regional woods,

Germany mid 18th century. H. 13 cm; L. 11 cm; l. 3,6 cm
 Bowl and Stem are decorated with vignettes of four Gods from the Roman Pantheon carved against a gilded background: Mars, Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. Female head at the front of the bowl. Wind cover decorated with a grotesquely carved head.The pipe is recorded as INV 206 in the collection Alice de Rothschild where it was originally stored in a custom fitted leather case with the armories of the first Duke of Sussex, Prince Augustus Frederick (1773-1843). Recorded as INV 49 A.f. in William Bragge’s Collection.
Courtesy of the Bibliothèque municipale de Grasse, Coll. Alice de Rothschild.
Photographer Peter Baum, Idstein, Germany

Germany mid 18th century. H. 11,3 cm; L. 14 cm; l. 4,8 cm
 Mythological Scene. Supporting the bowl on her shoulders, figurehead style, a Wood Nymph, holds high above her head a floral wreath framing a scene, expertly carved in low relief, of the coronation by an angel of a reclining Goddess in Eve's apparel.
Courtesy of the Bibliothèque municipale de Grasse, INV 36 Coll. Alice de Rothschild.
Photographer Peter Baum, Idstein, Germany

Germany Mid 18th century. Light wood (boxwood?) H. 9,2 cm; L. 8,5 cm; l. 4,1 cm
 A powerful mythological head is framed by masterfully executed rocaille and organic ornaments reminiscent of Franz Xaver Habermann's work. This god-like figure appears to emerge from a chaotic scene where mortals are engaged in fight or desperate attempts to hang on to the surging deity; a similar scene is developed on the carved wind cover where a man, a woman and a child, all carved in high relief, appear to be in the throes of agony. In apparent contrast to the turmoil around, a winged cherub blows his trumpet. Is he announcing the birth of a new Aesthetic Order?
Courtesy of the Bibliothèque municipale de Grasse, INV 211 Coll. Alice de Rothschild.
Photographer Peter Baum, Idstein, Germany

By the end of the 18th century the pendulum swung from Rococo Style to Classicism and back again to Romanticism in the later parts of the century.  

Meerschaum Pipe Bowl, 1845, Vienna, Austria, Height 15cm Length 12.5cm, APM 22.130, Amsterdam Pipe Museum

The front of the bowl in embossed with the Coat of Arms of Hungary flanked by floral swirls from which two angels emerge holding a royal crown high above the Coat of Arms. The wind cover is decorated with the same rococo motifs. Six holes skillfully hidden in the floral decor serve as outlets for smoke. In a rare occurrence the carver’s name “L. BINDER”appears at the bottom of the bowl.

"Beautifully designed rococo ornaments that smoothly cover the entire surface and are everywhere equivalent but asymmetrical." Don Duco

The scene shares striking similarities with the 1896 Hungarian Millenial Celebration Pipe by Adler & Son  figuring Franz Jospeh I (1830-1916) Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary.

Detail from the 1896 Hungarian Millenial Celebration Pipe by Adler & Son. On both side of the royal couple cherubs rise among rococo swirls while two angels hold a crown above Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth (Sisi) of Austria (1837–1898)

King Ludwig of Bavaria (1845-1886) revered the Romanticism of the Middle Ages and the theatrical flamboyance of Rococo décors

Photograph of King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1874

and in 1878, construction and interior decoration were completed on the Schloss Linderhof castle, His Neo-French Rococo Fantasy.

ivory candelabra in the Hall of Mirrors Ludwig II used as his living-room. Schloss Linderhof castle, Bavaria

At night, surrounded by candle lights and the myriads of reflections off the gilded mirrors, Ludwig enjoyed smoking His cheroot holder, each cigar carefully selected, warmed, inserted and ignited by his most trusted valet. Two of the most important cheroot holders in His collection have survived the trials of time.

The first one represents the extravagant Coach He rode during His Coronation Ceremony in 1864. The coach was covered in its entirety with gold leaf down to His wheels...

The actual Coronation coach of King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1864) is one of the highlights of the collection of the Marstallmuseum located at the former royal stables, Nymphenburg Palace, Munich, Bavaria.

The cheroot holder itself measures a mighty 54 cm/21.26" in length; 16 cm/6.3" in height; 5.5 cm/2.2" in width.

Collection number A64169 at the British Science Museum in London.

The Royal coach led by six horses with a complete equipage dressed in full regalia is carved in its full glory and intricacy. The carving is a bold demonstration of unparalleled dexterity, concentration and finesse.


The second one was presented by Dominique Delalande at the "La Fleur du Mal" Exhibition he organized in 1994 at the Trianon de Bagatelle in Paris. He described this oversized meerschaum cheroot holder (34 cm/13.6" length; 13.3 cm/5.3" height) and its provenance: 

"This Pipe is a Royal Commission. Sculpted in high relief the letter L crowned with decorations of rocailles, cherubs, garlands of flowers and the Allegory of Victory. The original drawing is the work of Anton Diehsl, arithmetic scholar at the Royal Court . The cheroot holder was presented on December 12, 1874 for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of King Ludwig II's accession to the throne. Vienna or Bavaria."

A slight brown coloration inside the rim of the Coronation cheroot holder suggests that it was smoked. The spirits of Kings Louis XIV and Louis XV would have been among the favored guests in Ludwig II's smoke-filled rèveries.

When not in use the holder would have been displayed in His mirrored  
Kunstkabinett (or Cabinet of Curiositiés) among Works of Art Worthy of a King's attention...or safely stored in its leather case below and within reach.

The presence of an Allegory of Victory in both cheroot holders, similarities in posture and style of carving, level of dexterity required to execute so flawlessly highly intricate designs, point to the same artist having undertaken the tall order of carving two very special presents for the King of Bavaria.

(*)     Ducher, Robert, "Caratéristique des Styles", Paris (1988)
(**)    Clare Le Corbeiller "German Porcelain of the Eighteenth Century", The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Spring 1990)
(***)   Roger Fresco-Corbu, "The Art of the German Porcelain Pipe", Country Life, Vol. 133 (1963)