December 04, 2008

When Louis Legrand illustrates Edgar Poë

Bank employee, Louis Legrand takes night classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Dijon. It is then with Félicien Rops that he learns the techniques of printmaking. He becomes famous by working as a cartoonist for the periodical Le Courrier Français. His dark and macabre vision of Paris nights causes him to be charged for obscenity and briefly imprisoned in 1891. Legrand then turns to more soft subjects and participates in Gil Blas, an illustrated periodical which makes sales records. His engravings on dance classes are reprinted, the following year, by E. Dentu, under the title Cours de danse fin de siècle. Legrand continues to describe this art with Les Petits du Ballet published in 1893 by Gustave Pellet. This is the beginning of a long collaboration with the editor who published thereafter among the most beautiful works of Toulouse-Lautrec, a master who outshined Legrand yet his predecessor.
In his study of the work of the painter, published also by Pellet, Camille Mauclair focuses on the illustrations made for Quinze Histoires d'Edgard Poe and adds :
"Those fifteen plates are little known and not often reproduced. They deserve yet to be widely shared, not only because of their beauty, but because they are so far the only illustrations work that someone dared try of these terrible masterpiece. "

Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • Legrand (Louis) - [Baudelaire (Charles)]. Quinze Histoires d'Edgar Poë. Illustrations de Louis Legrand. Paris, imprimé pour les Amis du Livre, Chaumerot et Renouard, 1897, in-4, binding in full black levant (Chambolle-Duru). Edition illustrated with 15 full-page original etchings, in two state, on Japan paper, et with 30 in-text drawings.
  • Legrand (Louis) – Ramiro (Erasthène). Faune Parisienne. Paris, Gustave Pellet Éditeur, 1901, in-4, binding full brown levant (Canape). First edition illustrated with 19 original etchings by Louis Legrand, including the cover. Limited to 130 copies. This one with a second state, in black of the etchings et with two original drawings enhanced with watercolors.
  • [Legrand (Louis)] - Mauclair (Camille). Louis Legrand, peintre et graveur. Paris, H. Floury et G. Pellet, 1910, petit in-4. Important study with many illustrations.