Description In 1866 William T. Walters commissioned a deluxe album from French art dealer Georges Petit (1856–1920) to house his growing collection of watercolors by the French watercolorist Léon Bonvin (1834-1866). This album tells us a great deal about how Walters viewed this artist. Placing the watercolors in an album helped preserve them and enhanced the sense of their preciousness, while encouraging intimate, close-up viewing of the individual works. For his album, Walters commissioned a decorative frontispiece and tailpiece from the flower painter Jean-Marie Reignier; these were completed by early 1867. Reignier's tailpiece in particular frames Bonvin as a tragic and romantic figure. An oval plaque inscribed with the artist's name and the year of his death is shown split across the middle. Around this are flowers arranged roughly in the form a cross. For Victorians, poppies often stood for consolation, sleep, and death; roses for love; ivy for memory and mourning; while the brambles may signify remorse. A flower falls across the artist's palette, which rests atop the plaque, the colors of its petals reflected in the paint laid out there, suggesting the interrelation of art and nature in Bonvin's work.
|1/01/2002||Treatment||examined for exhibition; re-housed; mounted; cleaned; other|
- The Essence of Line: French Drawings from Ingres to Degas. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma. 2005-2006.
- Near Paris: The Watercolors of Leon Bonvin. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 2012.
Provenance William T. Walters, Baltimore, 1867, by commission [George A. Lucas as agent]; Henry Walters, Baltimore, 1894, by inheritance; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Inscriptions [Signature and date] In watercolor, lower right: Reignier 1867
Credit Commissioned by William T. Walters, 1867
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