Thursday, 25 April 2013

Adolphe Rivet - Medal Designer

I recently purchased this medal without really looking closely, it was a design so regularly seen that I thought I knew all about it. The artist responsible for the design was Alponse Rivet (b1855), a French artist who was active at the very end of the 19thC and early 20thC. 

So imagine my surprise when I discovered that this was awarded in 1978 !! That's a great testament to any designer, if only he knew that it was being minted 70-80 years after it's creation. I wondered what other designs he created and whether they were just as successful.
Here is one from my own archive, these pastoral scenes seem to be a speciality, all very 19th century.

Adolphe Rivet , was a French sculptor, medalist and writer who was born in Périgueux in 1855, but strangely his death is not recorded !! Perhaps he still lives 158 years !! Little is recorded about his artist life other than he was a pupil of the sculptors Jules Cavelier (1814-94) and Hubert Ponscarme (1827-1903), sculptor, engraver and medalist.

He exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français with honorable mention in 1888 and a second-class medal in 1908 and during this period he is recorded as living at 8 rue Lafouge in Gentilly .

So little information about an artist whose work is still in circulation. His medals can be found in museum and gallery collections around the world including; Yale University Art Gallery and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

His art wasn't limited to medals, he did created many stand allow figural sculptures cast in bronze. Whilst as a writer, I have been able to trace one title by an author with his name - Les Derniers Jours de Jerusalem, published c1911. Is this by our man ?? help needed.
Other medal designs include;

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Alexis Vollon - Boudoir Art

 .... more boudoir art ... pictures of bedrooms for your bedroom.

Until the recent purchase of the picture below, Alexis Vollon was not an artist I was familiar with. Which was surprising; as you can see from the quality in both these etching, he was a talented print maker. These are very competent compositions, a delicate touch and enough stylisation without the slightly cartoonish feel of the other minor artists in the genre.

The reason ?? He was already a successful painter in oils before these etchings were created and perhaps these were a more commercial side project away from his "serious art"

Alexis Vollon (1865-1945), born Antoine, was a French figure, still life and landscape painter, the son of the painter Antoine Vollon (1883-1900) under whom he studied.. He was very successful early in his artistic career, exhibiting at the Salon Des Artistes Francais, Paris, recieving an "honourable mention" as early as 1885. He went on to be awarded was awarded a third class medal in 1888 followed in 1889 by a second-class medal.

typical early oil paintings - very delicate lighting, just drawing the viewer to the girls' heads.

Soon, this success led to acceptance as a full member of the Salon in 1891 and being made Chevalier of the Legion d’honneur and winning a silver medal at the Exhibition Universelle, Paris; both in 1900.

.... and to confirm that I have identified the correct artist, here are sample signatures. One from this painted and the other from the second etching.

Alexis was not as successful as his father, despite this the quality of his work is there to be seen. Such quality the his work can be found in several French museums including Montpellier, Digne and Gray as well as the collection of "Museums Sheffield" and "Derby Museums and Art Gallery" in the UK. 

His painting are regularly sold at auction for prices up to $14,000, although most that sell are valued at $2,000-$6,000. That is a lot of money for the work of a less successful son of a famous father. Antoine's paintings have sold for up to $70,000 but again most are valued a $4,000-$8,000.

It is quite some time between his early critical success and the date of these boudoir pictures, c1926, perhaps these were created to revive a stagnant period in his creative life.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Raoul Bénard - Medals

Isn't she lovely - a clean art deco influence depiction of Demeter the goddess of the harvest by Raoul Benard. Simple and clear, stylised but not abstracted, a talented artist but who was he ??

Raoul René Alphonse Bénard (1881-1961) was a French artist sculptor, born in Elbeuf, Seine-Maritime, France. Little is to be found about his early life before he is recorded as studying under the master Jules-Clement Chaplain (1839-1909). This study was a success as in 1911 he won the Prix de Rome followed by a silver medal at the Salon des Artistes Francais in 1922.

He entered the 1924 Paris Olympic Games !! although not as an athlete. This was at a time when the Olympic Games had art competitions, his entries were "Olympic Medal" for the Winter Games and "Commemorative Medal for 1924 Olympic Games". Regrettably he didn't win, the Gold Medal went to Kostas Dimitriadis of Greece for his "Finnish Discus Thrower".

This just the sort of design I love, a bit of Art Deco with a hint of Austrian Secession and a lovely lady !! Talking of which these little girls are just adorable - proves that his skills were not just limited to the miniature.


I would imagine that his main earner, his living wage, was the creation of medal. Their many to be seen on the market and most are still affordable in the £30-£50 range, less if you are lucky and more for the more elaborate art deco designs.

His art must have been critically well received as he was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur.

Other medal designs include;