Friday, September 3, 2010

The Bars of Paris, A Bar-Room in the U.S.

LEGRAND, Louis. Les Bars.
Paris: Gustave Pellet, 1908.

Louis Auguste Mathieu Legrand (1863–1951) was a French artist who worked in etchings, graphic art and paintings. Many of Legrand’s subjects were taken from Parisian nightlife, the bars, brothels, and music halls, and featured an undercurrent of eroticism. His black and white etchings provide a particular sense of decadence.

English Bar
(Arwas 389)

En passant
(Arwas 391)

Legrand  studied etching and engraving techniques with Felicien Rops, one of the few pupils of the great Belgian Symbolist, and he learned much from him but his manner of viewing men and women and life was different; Legrand had irony, wit and humor, and empathy for  the common and the socially scorned.

Aux Folies
(Arwas 386)

La Negresse
(Arwas 390)

Rops said that Legrand had “un amour extraordinaire du modele” (an extraordinary love for the sculptured) and in another remark said, “What a man, that Legrand, he would find angles in a billiard ball.”

(Arwas 385)
Pochard (Drunk)
(Arwas 387)

"An admirably skillful etcher, a draughtsman of keen vision, and a painter of curious character, who has in many ways forestalled the artists of to-day. Louis Legrand also shows to what extent Manet and Degas have revolutionized the art of illustration, in freeing the painters from obsolete laws and guiding them  toward  truth  and  frank  psychological  study. Legrand is full of them without resembling them.

Prince K
(Arwas 388)

Fin de soirée.
(Arwas 384).

"We must not forget that besides the technical innovation [division of tones, study of complementary colours] impression-ism has brought us novelty of composition, realism of character, and great liberty in the choice of subjects. From this point of view Rops himself, in spite of his symbolist tendencies, could not be classed with any other group if it were not that any kind of classification in art is useless and inaccurate. However that may be, Louis Legrand has signed some volumes with the most seductive qualities" (Camille Mauclair).

Au Bar
(Arwas 352)

Legrand certainly had an eye for the louche life, the languid couple below we imagine nearing the end of a long night of liquid pleasure in their corner of the bar.

From a folio suite of Legrand
works accompanying Les Bars

From a folio suite of Legrand works accompanying Les Bars.

But all things must pass, all parties must end:

Les Victimes de L'Alcool. Pathé, 1911

Blame it on those pesky, non-tippling temperance nuts in the United States who really knew how to poop a party. Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There by T.S. Arthur, about the effect of ardent spirits on a man, his family, and the entire community, is now an old warhorse but was one of the most popular American novels of the 19th century. Adapted to the stage, it became an instant sensation.

ARTHUR, T[imothy].S[hay]. Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, and What I Saw There.
Philadelphia: J.W. Bradley, 1854.
First edition.

Ten Nights in a Bar-Room.Publisher's original binding.
First edition, 1854.

Mezzotint by John Sartain
From Ten Nights in a Bar-Room
First edition, 1854.

From its debut shortly after the novel was published through the rest of the 19th century it was one of the most oft-produced plays in the United States, in continuous production by someone, somewhere. into the 20th century. With the birth of the cinema it was, of course, filmed. Twice.

Ten Nights in a Bar Room
Thanhouser, 1910.

Ten Nights in a Bar Room, 1931.

 But, really, didn't they know that alcoholic beverages are medicine? I drink Health Beer. It keeps my water running, allows the spirit to take flight, is an excellent digestive ferment, and puts hair on your chest. And you?

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy"
(Benjamin Franklin)


Images from first edition of Ten Nights in a Bar-Room courtesy of Dragon Books.

Images of Les Bars from a deluxe proof set and are courtesy of Sims Reed Rare Books, part of a folio suite of over 40 original etchings by the artist which include the two unidentified (by me) works above and Au Bar.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, those were the days! Legrand is so often overlooked, yet was such an amazing draughtsman. Thanks for this!


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