Thursday, 25 October 2012

Alexandre Morlon (1878-1951)

Art Deco design at it's best is beautiful to look at and easy to understand, no special "art appreciation studies" needed and the French created some the best small works in bronze from this period. Just look at the sculpture above, she's lovely. Screams "art deco"; nubile girls, bobbed "Louise Brooks" hair and the requisite cute animal, in this case the well known deco icon --- a Goat !!

OK --- perhaps not in the Ferdinand Preiss (1882-1943) or Joesef Lorenzl (1892-1950) league but just as decorative and probably at a fraction of the cost.............. and for those collector who aspire to collect art deco bronzes but have limited fund, then medals or medaille are for you. Just look at these.....

Pierre Alexandre Morlon (1878-1951) was a French artist sculptor of predominately small works in bronze, such as plaques, decorative and military medals and decorative boudoir sculptures. In addition he created some monumental memorials in stone and bronze. He was born in Macon in 1878 and studied under the influential artists Jean Alexandre Joseph Falguière (1831-1900), Jules Clement Chaplain (1839-1909), Henri Dubois (1853-1943) and Marius Jean Antonin Mercié 1845-1916) at the at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. This early training would have expose him to traditional "Classical" art that was still in vogue with the establishment at the end of the 19th century.

From the medals and bronzes that I have viewed, his earlier works, whilst competently executed, for me are lacking the individuality of later creations and are indistinguishable from the mass of similar work produced in the first two decades of the 20th century. From the end of the 1920's he has mastered the new in vogue "Art Decorative" style with simpler cleaner and bolders designs.

His works were accepted for by the Salon for exhibition from 1900, winning medals in both 1903 and 1906 before being awarded a gold medal in 1920 and the Medal of Honour in 1926. His medals and coins are widely collected and examples of his work can be found in several museum collections, including in Gent and in the Musée de la Monnaie, Paris.

He created many medal for sporting events and as commemorative mementoes but his most recognisable works are the French WW1 Victory Medal and the "New French Coinage" in circulation from 1928 as a replacement for the silver coins.

He must have been a well connected or influential medallist to have been chosen to design such prestigious items and perhaps it was these which led to him being made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur. Although he died in 1951 his lasting legacy of coinage remained in circulation well after his death.

Other awards and medals seen, include;

During my research I viewed several photographs of the War Memorial at Charolles (1922), designed in an austere art deco manner. The caption on the postcard below attributed the design to a sculptor J Morlon ?? Any relation ?

The caption on the postcard probably wrong as local interest websites record the sculptor as "Pierre Morlon",our man !! He was also responsible for the war memorials at La Clayette, Saint-Laurent-sur-Saône and at Rambevilliers plus the civic sculpture of grape harvesters in his home town of Macon.

Memorial at La Clayette (left),Saint-laurent-sur-Saône (right) and Rambervillers (below)

Grapes Harvesters in his home town of Macon.

Typical signatures seen.

........... and to end with more medailles.

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