Seminar cycle “Treasures on parchment”
Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian’s collection of western illuminated manuscripts
A selection of books presented in the 19th-century gallery
An invoice from the Librairie H. Floury, Boulevard des Capucines, Paris, dated 2 May 1899, records the acquisition of the catalogue of Louis Legrand’s engraved and lithographed work (pub. 1896). With this purchase, Calouste Gulbenkian began his collection of illustrated or bound works by the French artist – a talented draughtsman, watercolourist and engraver, as well as illustrator and binder. Legrand, as a “painter of modern life,” reveals, through his artistic production, an idea of the present, devoid of an established order, in which he praises artifice, the transitory, the city, and even the most singular or shady aspects of human nature.
Among the volumes presented here, we find some emblematic works that attest to Legrand’s skill as an illustrator, “adopted” by the publisher Gustave Pellet, who was also responsible for the publication of prints by Toulouse-Lautrec and Odilon Redon, and one of the most important collectors of the artist’s work. The intensity of his illustration of texts by Edgar Allan Poe and the emotional content of his “Book of Hours” contrast with a humorous register and the scenes of daily city life that Legrand also aimed to portray, confirming his eclecticism.