Silhouettes Militaires. De la Révolution et du 1er Empire Collection Bernard-Franck
NA. Very Good. An magnificent collection of 20 military costume mixed media oil paintings that were once part of a major French collection of militariana. N.d., 1830 to 1860 -- these were nostalgic portraits created during the reigns of Louis Philippe and Louis Napoleon (Napoleon III). Brisquet, the artist, apparently was set-up on the esplanade by les Invalides, certainly a logical place for a creator of military-related bric-a-brac to set up shop, so to speak, and seek to sell his wares. A variety of sizes, ranging in height between 34 and 45 cm, and width, 10 to 29 cm. We have 21 panels in all, with one containing a short textual description of the group. By mixed media, we are referring to the application of cut-outs, made mostly of very thick card, on board, giving the portraits and accessories a dimensionality. Some of these applied pieces are movable -- arms in particular -- or were meant to be so. Largely by dint of these cut-outs, the portraits have a folk art or naive quality. The soldiers are shown carrying firearms, flags, musical instruments, etc. Seldom is the portrait without some other element of interest, and always the background is enriched with a landscape suggestive of a rural battlefield or training ground. The portraits are all by the same artist, Brisquet, and they all are done in the same style. Based on the short explanatory panel, which describes him as a "Tir", which translates as a shooter, we would surmise that he was himself a veteran and possibly a resident himself of les Invalides. Portrayed are the following military figures, rendered in the original French and translated to English if needed: Generale Barthélemy Catherine Joubert, General Eduard Mortier (unlabeled on front), two panels of grenadiers (without further specificity), grenadier hollandais, grenadier de la Vistule (Polish grenadier), tirailleur (sharpshooter), sapeur de dragons, lancier Espagnol, fusilier, inspecteur aux regnes, porte-drapeau (flag bearer), tombour des volontaires (volunteer drummers), eclaireur a cheval jeune garde (young mounted guard and scout -- the portrait doesn't show the guard on horseback though), musicien chapeau Chinois (musician with a Chinese hat), two panels, not identical, of musicien d'Etat-Major, Legion Italique 1800, Flanqueur chasseur and a voltigeur (a member of a skirmish unit created by Napoleon). Each of the paintings is framed by brown strips of thick card, about 1 cm in width. At the base of each picture, excepting one, is a thin label, attached with brad nails, identifying for us who is being portrayed. We can assume that Brisquet made many more of these, and it seems probable that Bernard-Franck himself had many more, based on the numbering on the backs of many of the paintings. Still, we would consider this grouping to be more than ample and not conspicuously lacking in anything. Bernard Franck (1848-1924) was recognized as a leading collector of both militariana and Napoleonic era souvenirs. Born in Paris of a Jewish family, Franck ran a family business that manufactured military equipment. During the Franco-Prussian War he volunteered as a Zuoave. During his lifetime parts of his collection were loaned out for exhibition, starting with the Paris Exposition of 1900, and a part of his collection would be acquired by J.P. Morgan, who contributed it to the Metropolitan Museum. Many of the figurines in his collection are now owned by the Musée de lArmée which is located in les Invalides. All the panels have rings on their back that can be used for hanging them. The majority of the paintings are darkened and could benefit from a cleaning. This we can discern based on a few that are considerably brighter and thus are obviously closer to their original, intended state of color. Never, though, are featured blurred beyond recognition. A few chips to the applique pieces -- a missing hand, a missing piece to a wood stump, etc. Some of what were meant to be movable pieces no longer function as such. None of these losses materially affect the imagery. Rubbing of the frame pieces here and there. A few cracks to the card material or across the painting. In general, the condition flaws are acceptable and within expectation for decorative antiques -- one could say they add to the character, even.
(Inventory #: 005001)
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