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Restoring the works of Jean-Louis Forain

Manual craft skills for the preservation of art

Reflecting its vocation to promote expert craft skills, the Fondation d'entreprise Hermès is working with the Petit Palais and the Arts Décoratifs (France's national school and museum of the decorative arts) to restore the works of Jean-Louis Forain, for a spring 2011 exhibition in Paris.

Fondation d'Entreprise Hermès - Restoring the works of Jean-Louis Forain
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Jean Tholance

Painter, engraver and illustrator Jean-Louis Forain (1852-1931) was the French Belle Epoque's celebrated social and political caricaturist, pinpointing and revealing the underside of the society of his day. He created decorative schemes for the façade of the Café Riche – a high temple of Parisian society, on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris – parts of which survived the building's destruction in 1898. The Musée Émile Hermès holds one of Forain's stained-glass windows, a testimony to his exceptional skills.

In preparation for the first retrospective of Jean-Louis Forain's work at the Petit Palais (the Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris) in 2011, the Foundation is supporting the restoration of a number of works, by specialist workshops at the Arts Décoratifs (most of the works in the exhibition are in the permanent collections of the museum).

The restoration campaign focuses in particular on the preparatory designs for mosaics and stained-glass windows at the Café Riche, notably Coup de Vent ('A gust of wind'- in oils on paper mounted on canvas), two mosaic panels (Couple valsant – 'A waltzing couple') and six preparatory gouache sketches on paper: The Little Violet Seller, The Newspaper Crier, Ladies with lorgnettes and black gloves, Secrets at the Ball, The Waltz, and The Supper.

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