Musée d'Orsay: Eugène Grasset Landscapes of ornamental stones and grass

Eugène Grasset
Landscapes of ornamental stones and grass

Landscapes of ornamental stones and grass
Eugène Grasset (1845-1917)
Landscapes of ornamental stones and grass
Between 1890 and 1903
Pencil on paper
H. 19; W. 15.6 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Sophie Crépy

Earthenware rocks
Leaves, mosses and stones
Stylised head of a tiger
Floating Boat
Two studies of tigers' heads

Paysages de pierres et d'herbes ornementés [Landscapes of ornamental stones and grass]

Alongside his career as a creative artist, Grasset was a teacher and design theorist of great repute, giving classes in decorative composition between 1891 and 1917 at the Ecole Guérin in particular (a private school in the Montparnasse area).

These course notes form the rich collection in the museum. More than 6,000 sheets enable us to understand the teacher's approach to everything found in the natural world. These notes are divided up into subjects: flora, fauna, landscape, the human figure, architecture.
His teaching moved through several phases. Initially getting to know the subject, favouring a faithful representation using his previous knowledge of zoology, botany, anatomy etc. Then came the phase of geometrisation, where the subject is interpreted through simplifying the forms. Finally, a phase where the subject was realised and decorated, encouraging the use of colour and a considered choice of materials.

Each sheet of paper is black with hand written notes explaining, point by point, the whys and wherefores of the style of the drawing in question. Certain references to works of art, to famous works or even to the museums where they were found are noted down. Everything is dated, paginated, annotated and is extremely coherent in spite of the fact that these notes were used for a number of different educational establishments. Grasset trained a generation of talented illustrators like Maurice Pillard-Verneuil. He was at the origin of Art Nouveau and would not support the use of the breakaway term "nouveau" as he was a great defender of the skills of the past.

Enlarge font size Reduce font size Tip a friend Print