LEON BARILLOT (1844-1929)
An album of original watercolours of poultry. [Drawings variously dated between 1899-1911]. Oblong 4 (204 x 285mm). 12 original watercolours, 11 of chickens or bantams, one of turkeys, all signed 'L. Barillot'.,10 mounted [125 x 215mm. approx.], 2 unmounted [135 x 215mm. aprox.], most with further inscriptions or titles on recto or verso of image or mount. Modern green half morocco gilt, the flat spine lettered and tooled in gilt.
A FINE COLLECTION OF ORIGINAL WATERCOLOUR PORTRAITS OF VARIOUS BREEDS OF CHICKENS BY THE RENOWNED FRENCH PAINTER OF ANIMALS. Leon Barillot was born at Montigny-les-Metz, in Lorraine, in 1844. He studied at Metz and first went to Paris in 1869, exhibiting at the Salon in the same year. The war of 1870 forced him to return to Metz and he did not come back to Paris until after the period of the Commune, when he worked successively at the ateliers 'de Suisse' and 'Bonnat'. During this period he was known almost exclusively for his paintings of cattle set in luminous landscapes, flooded with light. He was able to give a life to his animals in a way that few of his contemporaries could emulate. He received a gold medal at the Paris 'Exposition Universelle' of 1900, was a member of the paintings jury of the 'Salon des Artistes Franais' and a Chevalier of the 'Legion d'Honneur'.
These drawings appear to have been prepared as artwork for an unidentified project. Two possibilities are either a projected but unrealised work on poultry, or, given the spread of dates, they may represent images prepared for plates to be included in a specialist periodical publication. The inscriptions make it clear that some of the drawings are portraits of known birds: the cock and one of the hens of the 'Blanche de la Bresse' breed are the individuals who won the first prize at the Paris 1900 exhibition (the same exhibition at which the artist also won a first prize), the portrait of the Hamburgs depicts birds which won a first at the 'Concours gnral agricole de Paris' in 1903; the turkeys won a prize at the same show in 1899, etc. However, whether the individual birds are identified or not, all the drawings are clearly taken from life, set against carefully realised rural backgrounds, and all capture the expressions and attitudes of wary but dim puzzlement that seem to characterise poultry. Cf. Benezit I, p.444; cf. Thieme/Becker 2, p.499.