Legrand, Louis Auguste Mathieu (1863-1951)
Louis Legrand: Even in the liberal atmosphere of pre World War One Paris, the dry points and etchings of Louis Legrand sometimes created controversy. Much of his art was frankly erotic and for his more prudish critics this element blinded them from his great artistic talents.
Louis-Auguste-Mathieu Legrand first studied painting techniques at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in his native Dijon. He moved to Paris in 1884 and was deeply impressed with the graphic art of Degas, particularly his nudes in monotype, dry point and lithography. Shortly thereafter he met and became a friend of Felicien Rops -- the famous nineteenth century master of macabre and sexual imagery. It was Rops who first introduced then instructed Legrand in the art of etching and engraving.
In 1887 Louis Legrand became a contributing artist to Le Courrier Francais and, along with such contemporaries as Forain and Willette, contributed weekly illustrations for the following five years. Around 1891 Louis Legrand was introduced to the influential publisher, Gustave Pellet. Pellet (1859-1919) commissioned the lithographs and etchings of such artists as Toulouse-Lautrec, Alexandre Lunois, Rops and Raffaelli. During the following three decades Pellet published almost three hundred original etchings and dry points by Legrand.
Legrand's first one-man exhibition of his art took place in Paris in 1896. At the 1900 Universal Exhibition Legrand was awarded a Silver Medal. Two years later the government of France awarded Louis Legrand the prestigious Legion d'honneur. During the following years such important scholars and critics as Roger Marx, Louis Morin, Clement-Janin and Camille Mauclair published comprehensive articles and monographs upon the graphic art of Louis Legrand. In subject and theme scholars have often linked Louis Legrand's prints to those of Toulouse-Lautrec. Both artists concentrated upon scenes of dance halls, bars, brothels and other areas of life that lie outside the bounds of 'acceptable' society. At the turn of the century, in fact, Louis Legrand established his studio at the Moulin Rouge.
Today the art of Louis Legrand is included in most major French and international museums. His masterful command of dry point, etching, aquatint and roulette is characterized by his direct and individualistic manner, with vigorous modeling and rich tones. Louis Legrand is simply one of France's finest early twentieth century masters of etching.