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Joseph Granié (Toulouse 1866 - 1915 Paris)

Enigmatic face

Graphite, coloured pencils and gouache highlights on paper

18.5 x 13.5 cm

Signed lower left: Granié

A native of Toulouse, Joseph Granié began his training with the painter Jules Garipuy, before travelling to Paris to the workshop of Jean Léon Gérôme. From this period on, he showed a predilection for portraiture; his choice of a self-portrait for his first entry to the 1879 Salon was not insignificant. Figures, female in the majority, often ambiguous and depicted in a very personal style, make up the largest part of his output. He sometimes moved closer to the symbolist movement, however, and his taste for minimal drawing on monochromatic backgrounds shows his fascination for some masters from the German or Italian Renaissance, as our artwork illustrates.

The extremely fine lines produce an effect close to that of silverpoint drawings. Joseph Granié tried his hand at illumination, but this should rather be seen more as a search for a ‘Leonardesque’ aesthetic. Indeed, everything appears to lead towards this artist. The figure with long hair and enigmatic smile is very similar to Mona Lisa, just as the androgynous character of the model reminds us of Saint John the Baptist, also in the Louvre Museum.
Perhaps like the English Pre-Raphaelites, Granié was searching for a form of artistic purity, but he always added an unsettling, even mysterious dimension which reflects all the sophistication of his art.

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