Head of Sale
British and European Art / Clément Mère (French, 1861-1940) Symbolist triptych each canvas 112 x 51.1cm (44 1/8 x 20 1/8in); overall 122.2 x 171cm (48 1/8 x 67 5/16in).
£12,000 - £18,000
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Anne-Claire Struillou, L'oeuvre plurielle de Clément Mère: du dessin préparatoire à la réalisation finale, 2016.
Clément Mère was a decorative artist active from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. He produced works of art for the diplomatic corps, national museums and the upper middle class, notably for the Rothschild and Frisch de Fels families. Born in Bayonne in 1870, he moved to Paris to study at L'école des Beaux-Arts and apprentice in Jean-Léon Gérôme's atelier. In 1900, he joined La Maison Moderne gallery, and worked with them for several years. During this period, he meets Franz Waldraff (1878-1960), a German decorative painter, who would become a very close friend. They opened a studio together in 1902, and started producing small items such as letter openers, toiletry items or fans using different materials such as ivory, wood and leather.
The production of Clément Mère furniture, embroidered fabrics, paintings and decorative objects is impressive both in terms of quantity and quality. The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris acquired several sketches of the artist in 2015, showing all the detailed work of the artist and his evolution. The Musée d'Orsay in Paris owns a set of decorative panels by the artist depicting peacocks and other birds with flowers in an exotic setting. This work was commissioned by the Count André de Fels for the dining room of his Parisian mansion, where he was organising literature salons inviting famous French writers such and Valéry, Gide and Simenon.
Clément Mère was prolific decorative artist, however, his pictorial works are rare and less than twenty works on canvas by the artist are currently known. In the 1900s, Mère painted landscapes from his native Basses-Pyrénées region but also liked spending time in Franche-Comté where he often painted with his friend Jules-Alexis Muenier from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He exhibited some of his landscape paintings during the first Biarritz-Association exhibition in 1883.
This very special triptych is the first known work on canvas by Clément Mère, when the artist was 26 years old. He created this large triptych in 1887 after a request from a private Parisian client. These oils depict three different charming scenes in pastel tones. On the first panel, a young woman in a bucolic landscape is holding a bouquet of wildflowers. The second panel is a peaceful river landscape with trees and golden leaves. The third panel an embracing couple in a rural scene. This colour palette is similar to another work of 1894, titled 'Paysage de campagne à la nuit tombante', currently part of a private collection in New York. The characters in a rural landscape can also be found in other works by the artist, such as leather panels created between 1901 and 1902 for the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts.