Anita V. Sganzerla 
4 April 2017

Salon du dessin 2017: artists at work


The Salon du dessin in Paris closed its doors on Monday 27 March. This year’s edition was marked by the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the association Le cabinet des amateurs de dessins de l’École des Beaux-Arts. The exhibition Le partage d’ une passion, curated by Emmanuelle Brugerolles, featured forty highlights of the École des Beaux-Arts’ collection.


One such work was George Paul Leroux’s Études classiques de la peinture (fig. 1). Made in preparation for a now lost triptych, it dates to the early phase of Leroux’s career, when he was a pupil of Léon Bonnat (1833–1922) at the École. It illustrates the three components of academic teaching: copy from the antique, drawing from the model and anatomical study. Also related to this project is Leroux’s A life class, in the Katrin Bellinger collection (fig. 2), a study for the triptych’s central panel. While the EBA drawing is reminiscent of Georges Seurat’s graphic style, our painterly sheet combines pen and ink with chalk, watercolour and white heightening.


Amongst the images of artists at work on view at the Salon, Jacques-André Portail’s delicate chalk drawing Jeune fille dessinant (fig. 3), with Galerie Talabardon & Gautier, unsurprisingly sold on the opening night. The Paris-based gallery also presented Paul César Helleu’s charming palette-shaped portrait of his son.


Helleu, who trained at the École des Beaux-Arts, was a talented oil painter, draughtsman and printmaker. The popularity of his distinctive style was reaffirmed this year at sales across Paris. An intimate portrait of the artist’s daughter Paulette – sold at Galerie Alexis Bordes – made a welcome addition to the Katrin Bellinger collection (fig. 4). Frequently depicted by Helleu, Paulette donated her father’s graphic works to the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, since renamed Musée Bonnat-Helleu.

Fig. 1 George Paul Leroux (1877–1957), Études classiques de la peinture, 1904, charcoal on three assembled sheets of paper, Paris, École des Beaux-Arts, inv. no. 7905.

Fig. 2 George Paul Leroux, A life class, 1904, pen, chalk, watercolours, heightened with white.

Fig. 3 Jacques-André Portail (1695–1759), Jeune fille dessinant, black chalk, sanguine and blue pastel framing, private collection (detail).

Fig. 4 Paul-César Helleu (1859–1927), The artist’s daughter Paulette, drawing, c. 1920, sanguine (detail).