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Louis Chalon "Libellule" Enamel, Gilt Bronze, and Ceramic Vase

This gilt bronze, ceramic, and enamel "Libellule" vase was a joint collaboration between Louis Chalon, Alphonse Adolphe Lamarre, Eugène Feuillâtre, and Paul Louchet. Each artist contributed a different component to this masterpiece of Art Nouveau: Chalon created the gilt-bronze figure and sculptural base, Feuillâtre probably designed the enamel work in the figure’s wings, Lamarre executed the ceramic body of the vase, and Louchet conceptualized the entire piece from the elements that the other artists offered. The vase is dominated by greens, blues, and golds, with bronze, ceramic, and enamel all woven together to create a total work of art. The nude, gilt-bronze figure is at the crux of the piece, with yellow, blue, teal, red, and green enamel dragonfly wings sprouting from her arched back and her hands wrapped around the rim of the ceramic vase. The figure stands atop a stylized array of lily pads, and an upward-glancing frog tells the viewer that the nude is the size of a mythical water nymph. The stalks of bronze lily pads twist up around the teal, lapis, and white glazed ceramic vase, creating the illusion of a watery pond.

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  • Product Details
  • Curator's Notes

Item #: C-20536
Artist: Louis Chalon, Alphonse Adolphe Lamarre, Eugène Feuillâtre (attributed), and Paul Louchet
Country: France
Circa: 1898
Dimensions: 8'' diameter, 18.5'' height
Materials: Hard-paste Porcelain, Enamel, Bronze, Gilt
Signed: Bronze signed “Chalon”, “Lo. 1897 L6-8vo” written on the base in graphite
Literature: Pictured in The Paris Salons, 1895-1914, by Alistair Duncan, 1999, volume 5, p. 35; and Cf. Frederick R. Brandt, Late 19th and Early 20th Century Decorative Arts, the Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia, 1985, 59, cat. no. 9; and Laurence Buffet-Challie, The Modern Style, 1982, p.147 fig. no. 5, collection Manoukian.

This vase prominently features a gilt-bronze female nude with narrow, colorful enamel wings. The figure is a femme libellule (part damselfly, part woman), a common motif during the Art Nouveau period. As women’s roles in society changed with the turning of the twentieth century, male artists attempted to understand this novel idea by depicting women as transmogrified beings, or half-animals. In this piece, one can see the nude figure with bright wings as free in her sexuality and movement; conversely, she can be seen as a sexual object, and as small and weak as an insect. Chalon, Lamarre, and Feuillâtre were all, in their own rights, among the best artists of the Art Nouveau movement. Each artist received prizes and accolades at the Paris Expositions Universelles in 1889 and 1900 for works in their respective fields. A similar model is currently a part of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts collection.