Wednesday, October 10, 2012

63. Alphonse Legros (2)

Charles Ricketts engraved three wood-cuts after drawings by Alphonse Legros. They were exhibited during 'The first exhibition of original wood engraving' at the Dutch Gallery in 14, Brook Street, London in 1898.
The first exhibition of original wood engraving (London, The Dutch Gallery, 1898, p. v: detail)
The three woodcuts were also listed in A catalogue of paintings, drawings, etchings and lithographs by Professor Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) from the collection of Frank E. Bliss, Esq. (1922) as items 342-343. The first one (342), 'Une messe macabre or Death in the Chantry', was called 'La mort musicienne' in the Dutch Gallery catalogue of 1898. In the background a skeleton is conducting the congregation, while another skeleton plays the organ to the left. The music has made the audience jumpy. 
Charles Ricketts, 'Une messe macabre' (or Death in the Chantry), woodcut after a drawing by Alphonse Legros
The other two (listed together as 343) are 'Death the wooer' (earlier title: 'Death the persuader') and 'Young girl and death' (also known as 'Jeune fille et la mort'). The former of these was reproduced on the cover of the 1922 catalogue; the latter was printed in Léonce Bénédite's Alphonse Legros (Paris, Librairie Paul Ollendorff, 1900, facing p. 20) and an illustration of that image can be found on: Adventures in the print trade (2008). Both woodcuts show a young woman and a skeleton. In 'Death the wooer' the woman is seen from the front. Death has stripped her of her robe, and is offering a money-bag. In 'Young girl and death' we see them from behind and the skeleton has become her lover.
Charles Ricketts, 'Death the wooer', woodcut after a drawing by Alphonse Legros
Charles Ricketts, 'Young girl and death', woodcut after a drawing by Alphonse Legros
The inclusion of the three woodcuts after drawings by Legros in the 1898 exhibition of original wood engraving, an initiative of the Vale Press coterie, was an attempt to link the efforts of a younger generation - T.S. Moore, C.H. Shannon, C. Ricketts, R. Savage, L. Pissarro and William Nicholson - to those of the generation of J.F. Millet and Alphonse Legros. A year earlier, the Dutch Gallery had shown an exhibition of paintings, drawings and etchings by Legros, which was reviewed by Ricketts in The Saturday Review.