Laforgue (Jules)

Lot 20
Go to lot
Estimation :
9000 - 12000 EUR
Result with fees
Result : 24 700EUR
Laforgue (Jules)
The Impressionists. Autograph manuscript, [1882-1883], 6 leaves (32.5 x 20.5 cm). Binding: The manuscript is mounted on tabs in a supple black long-grain morocco binding by Alidor Goy, slipcase. Very important unpublished manuscript by the poet who, before his death at age 27, was a visionary art critic, one of the very first studies of Impressionism, extraordinarily sharp. A shooting star of poetry, Jules Laforgue (1860-1887) wanted above all to be an art critic, and spent a considerable amount of time between the Bibliothèque nationale, the Louvre and the École des Beaux-Arts, before Gustave Kahn introduced him at the age of 21 to Charles Ephrussi, for whom he became secretary. This gave him access to the painting collection of the future owner of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, built around his friends Manet and Renoir. Thanks to Ephrussi, Laforgue took his first steps as an art critic, then became a reader in Germany for Empress Augusta from 1881 to 1886. Visiting museums and dealers in Germany, he sent reports to Ephrussi's journal, and it was in this context that he wrote the present article, which he also intended to translate into German. In 1883, Laforgue mentions this work in letters to Ephrussi and Charles Henry (Œuvres Complètes, tome I, page 850). Only a partial draft, used in 1903 in Le Mercure de France by Camille Mauclair, was published posthumously, with additions by Mauclair (Œuvres complètes, tome III, page 336, republished in 1999). The present manuscript, elaborate and complete, remains unknown and unpublished. This manuscript refers to an exhibition at Gurlitt's that included numerous Impressionist canvases, including works by Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, and Manet, "the leader, the initiator, who died a year ago". Laforgue evokes the controversy surrounding the Impressionists: "Museums ignore them, the institute and established painters hold them to be of no avail, the press, which was initially amused by them and made of them, like caricatures and genre theaters, a theme for jokes, plays the conspiracy of silence, the public, also initially amused, now goes only out of disinterested curiosity to their annual Exhibitions d'Indépendants, a few amateur artists buy them and furnish their salons with them at the risk of compromising their reputation as honest people. " Laforgue cites the critics and writers who defended this young painting, from Ephrussi, Duret, Huysmans, Burty or Duranty to Zola, and evokes the terms "école du plein air", "école des Batignoles", "école de la pure tache", or more simply "independent artists". He notes, however, that no one before him, apart from Paul Bourget, had approached this painting from the point of view of optical physiology. With great acuity, Laforgue then links the "impressionist eye" to Gustav Fechner's aesthetics of visuality: "The impressionist eye must know only luminous vibrations as the acoustic nerve knows only sound vibrations", comparing the academic eye to the impressionist eye "which sees rich prismatic decompositions and renders nature as it is, that is, in colored vibrations [....] So the Impressionist eye is like the primitive eye, a pure eye sensitive only to the world of luminous vibrations, ignoring tactile information, i.e. linear drawing and drawn perspective, and moreover it has the infinite resources of the most subtle prismatic organ that painting has yet revealed. For this eye, a landscape, a street scene, is a set of diverse stains in incessant variation and vibration in the life of atmospheric undulatory masses, stains uniquely shaped by other vibrating stains and perspectivating themselves at their living planes by the vibrations of the whole". In this context, the Impressionists' plein air was simply "the painting of beings and things in their atmosphere", achieved through the prism of a true "optical revolution". Speaking of the Impressionist painter himself, Laforgue continues: "He has a palette, a canvas, he places himself in front of any piece of landscape or boulevard and paints immediately, without prior drawing and without any indication of perspective with reference points, establishing his form and his planes, life in a word, by a thousand colored spots, irregular, in all directions, like dancing spangles." Laforgue goes on to discuss the use of violet, "which provoked indignation and jokes", and cites the work of Magnus and Fechner, as well as the concept of proximity to ultra-violet, whose vibrations are the most numerous and whose waves are the shortest. And he concludes prophetically with
My orders
Sale information
Sales conditions
Return to catalogue