Paul Emile Berthon

Petit Nu (Golden)

 

 

 

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Representative Works:

Lecons de Violon

 

Femme di Profil

 

L'Ermitage

 

 

Sa Tres Gracieuse

Majeste La Reine Wilhelmine

 

 

Along with the art of Alfons Mucha, the lithographs of Paul Berthon stand at the centre of our interpretation of Art Nouveau grace and beauty. Despite his very short life it is impossible not to rank Berthon among the greatest masters of this entire turn-of-the-century movement.

Paul Berthon first studied as a painter in Villefranche before coming to Paris in 1893. There he enrolled at the Ecole Normale d'Enseignement de Dessin, receiving lessons from Luc-Oliver Merson. Yet the greatest influence upon Berthon came from his teacher of Decorative Arts, Eugene Grasset (1841-1917). Grasset's impact upon the early formation of the Art Nouveau movement had been vast and both Berthon and Mucha acknowledged him as the single greatest influence upon their art.

Berthon's early lithographs (dated up to 1896) often show stylistic elements comparable to Grasset. As his style developed, however, Berthon began using the autumnal pastel coloured palette and the strongly defined lines and patterns that have made his art so famous. Other key elements in Berthon's art were his study of Japanese woodcuts and his attention to the art of the natural world -- particularly its flora and fauna -- where he utilized the arts of medieval France as exemplars.

The graphic oeuvre of Paul Berthon consists of ninety-four original lithographs. Almost two-thirds of Berthon's original lithographs are what the artist termed, "Panneaux Decoratifs". Unlike most Art Nouveau posters, Berthon's panneaux decoratifs included no advertising and no letterpress. They were meant to stand alone as significant works of art in their own right.

 

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