Thursday, 25 October 2012

Alexandre Morlon (1878-1951)

Art Deco design at it's best is beautiful to look at and easy to understand, no special "art appreciation studies" needed and the French created some the best small works in bronze from this period. Just look at the sculpture above, she's lovely. Screams "art deco"; nubile girls, bobbed "Louise Brooks" hair and the requisite cute animal, in this case the well known deco icon --- a Goat !!

OK --- perhaps not in the Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943) or Joesef Lorenzl (1892-1950) league but just as decorative and probably at a fraction of the cost.............. and for those collector who aspire to collect art deco bronzes but have limited fund, then medals or medaille are for you. Just look at these.....

Pierre Alexandre Morlon (1878-1951) was a French artist sculptor of predominately small works in bronze, such as plaques, decorative and military medals and decorative boudoir sculptures. In addition he created some monumental memorials in stone and bronze. He was born in Macon in 1878 and studied under the influential artists Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguière (1831-1900), Jules Clement Chaplain (1839-1909), Henri Dubois (1853-1943) and Marius Jean Antonin Mercié 1845-1916) at the at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This early training would have expose him to traditional "Classical" art that was still in vogue with the establishment at the end of the 19th century.

From the medals and bronzes that I have viewed, his earlier works, whilst competently executed, for me are lacking the individuality of later creations and are indistinguishable from the mass of similar work produced in the first two decades of the 20th century. From the end of the 1920's he has mastered the new in vogue "Art Decorative" style with simpler cleaner and bolders designs.

His works were accepted for by the Salon for exhibition from 1900, winning medals in both 1903 and 1906 before being awarded a gold medal in 1920 and the Medal of Honour in 1926. His medals and coins are widely collected and examples of his work can be found in several museum collections, including in Gent and in the Musée de la Monnaie, Paris.

He created many medal for sporting events and as commemorative mementoes but his most recognisable works are the French WW1 Victory Medal and the "New French Coinage" in circulation from 1928 as a replacement for the silver coins.

He must have been a well connected or influential medallist to have been chosen to design such prestigious items and perhaps it was these which led to him being made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. Although he died in 1951 his lasting legacy of coinage remained in circulation well after his death.

Other awards and medals seen, include;

During my research I viewed several photographs of the War Memorial at Charolles (1922), designed in an austere art deco manner. The caption on the postcard below attributed the design to a sculptor J Morlon ?? Any relation ?

The caption on the postcard probably wrong as local interest websites record the sculptor as "Pierre Morlon",our man !! He was also responsible for the war memorials at La Clayette, Saint-Laurent-sur-Saône and at Rambevilliers plus the civic sculpture of grape harvesters in his home town of Macon.

Memorial at La Clayette (left),Saint-laurent-sur-Saône (right) and Rambervillers (below)

Grapes Harvesters in his home town of Macon.

Typical signatures seen.

........... and to end with more medailles.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Georges Prud'homme (1873-1947)

Georges Henri Prud'homme (1873-1947) created some truly exquisite medals, their fineness is breath taking. You might not necessarily like the designs, but you have to admire the craftsmanship.

this medal is only 32mm in diameter - how do they engrave so finely ?

Georges was born in Capbreton the fifth and youngest child of Jean-Henri and Antoinette. Little is recorded about his early life and education other than he was baptised on the 19th February 1873 in the local parish church. Nothing enlightening yet !!

Portrait medals were the staple product of many medallists, Georges are finely engraved.

There are several references to his study at the l'École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-arts where he studied medal engraving under Alphée Dubois (1831-1905) and sculpture under the important artist Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguière (1831-1900). His work was accepted for exhibition at the Salon from as early as 1894 after which followed a successful career with highlights such as an "Honourable Mention" in 1901 and a 3rd Class Medal in 1904. In 1905 he was elected to the Sociétaire des Artistes Français and was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur before in his death in Paris in 1947.

In addition to he medals he designed postage stamps for the French Postal Service. From 1922 until 1930 he cretaed 29 designs including the "Pasteur" series of commemoratives stamps.

This design seems to be on or perhaps inspired medal he created in 1922 commemorating 100 years since the birth of the famous chemist bacteriologist , Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)

One of his most enduring public monuments is the commemorative plaque to Jeanne D'Arc in Poiters, typically she is moulded a striking male youth in armour with a stoic expression of indifference. The plaque was created for the 500th anniversary of the Siege of Orleans 1429-1959 and incribed


He returned to the The Maid of Orléans several times for inspiration.

Other designs seen include;

Charles Lindbergh - medal c1927

Ville De Paris - c1910

A very talented medallist, whose creations continued to be minted for many years after his death. This itself confirms the timeless quality of his work.

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Thursday, 11 October 2012

Norbertine Bresslern Roth - Abroad

............ coming up for sale tomorrow at Lawrences Auctionioneers are these 3 prints by Norbertine Bresslern Roth (1891-1978), which have a different subject matter to her usual mix of exotic animals. These Northern African scenes are full of colourful locals, ponies, donkey and camels - if you are bidding, then they are lots 1660, 1661 and 1662, each has a £200-£300 estimate, which they should easily reach.

I don't know the history of these studies, from the subject matter and the palette of colours used, they must have been created at the same time - had she been on holiday to Morrocco ? and been inspired by the ethnic mix of cultures and colour.

She would not have been the first printmaker to study African culture - see my earlier posting on Mary Macrae White - link and Mabel Royds (1874-1941) must be mentioned for colourful print of Indian culture.

Any guess how much they will sell for ??