Armand Point (1861-1932) French Algerian painter, engraver and designer

Golden Legend (Legende Dorée) Armand Point 1897
Golden Legend (Legende Dorée) Armand Point 1897

Armand Point (1861-1932) was a Symbolist painter, engraver, and designer from France, one of the Salon de la Rose + Croix founding members.

Biography

Point’s first paintings were orientalist scenes of markets and musicians and scenes from his childhood in Algeria’s streets. In 1888, he moved to Paris to study under Auguste Herst and Fernand Cormon at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. Numa Gillet was related to him. He began exhibiting at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1890.

Idealism period

Point was a member of the first Nabis group and was inspired by Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In 1894, he travelled to Italy with Hélène Linder (1867-1955) (later Mme Berthelot). He first saw Sandro Botticelli’s Primavera outside of an engraving. The experience left an indelible impression on him. He wrote that seeing it “first opened up” his eyes, prompting him to try to start a movement in France to revive the art of the 15th and 16th centuries.

The Eternal Chimera by Armand Point pastel c. 1895
The Eternal Chimera by Armand Point pastel c. 1895

Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci’s influence can be seen in his work, such as in the c. 1895 Eternal Chimera. Hélène Linder was an ideal female model for Point, who painted her in a Leonardesque style while dressed as a Botticelli muse. Hélène’s hairstyles seem to have been inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s Study for the Head of Leda (study for an original painting now lost). Just before the outbreak of World War I, Hélène married French diplomat Philippe Berthelot. According to Philippe Jullian, Point was transitioning from a “dreamy realism to a thorough idealism”.

Symbolism period

Point was quickly progressing into full-fledged Symbolism. He made a concerted attempt to denounce the modern world and Zola and Courbet’s realism. He became a friend of “Sâr” Peladan after transitioning to Rosicrucianism. According to Edward Lucie-Smith, he was a “medievalizing painter… whose style mingled Moreau’s influence with that of the Pre-Raphaelites,” according to Edward Lucie-Smith.

Point exhibited at the Salon de la Rose+Croix from 1892 to 1896. He designed the poster for the group’s fifth salon with Léonard Sarluis. The Greek myth in which Perseus decapitated the Gorgon Medusa portrayed the Ideal as Perseus carrying the severed head of Émile Zola. For the Symbolists, Zola exemplified the patriarchal Naturalism they despised in literature.

Autumn-Soul by Armand Point 1890
Autumn-Soul by Armand Point 1890 – symbolist work

His 1897 The Siren, for example, featured a traditional Symbolist femme fatale figure luring men to their doom. Point also contributed an original lithograph to the L’Estampe Moderne in 1897, titled the Golden Legend (Fr. Légende dorée). Each journal issue included four original prints, and Point’s was published in Number 5, September 1897. Alphonse Mucha, Henri Fantin-Latour, and Edward Burne-Jones were among the other artists who contributed.

Atelier de Haute-Claire

Point lived in Marlotte from 1896 to 1901, where he founded the Atelier de Haute-Claire, not far from the Barbizon school. The distinction between fine and decorative arts was starting to blur around the turn of the century, and Point became increasingly involved in the latter.

He aspired to be like William Morris, who rebelled against nineteenth-century materialism by creating applied art, such as furniture, jewellery, fabrics, ceramics, and wallpaper, that harkened back to Middle Ages techniques and styles.

To prevent modern mass production’s alienating impact, everything was handcrafted to a very high craftsmanship level. As a result, the atelier’s goods were luxury pieces that the rich could only buy, and the project fell short of one of its primary goals.

The works of the Haute-Claire collective were denounced by the Symbolist journal L’Ermitage as religious symbols fit only for respect in a museum case and had nothing to do with France. The Coffret d’Ophélie (Ophelia Box), a box in the shape of a mediaeval shrine that referred to Shakespeare’s Ophelia, much admired by the Pre-Raphelites, was one such ornate piece. Bronze, cabochon, champlevé enamelling, cloisonné, ivory, gold, and other costly materials and techniques were used in the box. The atelier produced several related boxes, including an alternate Ophelia box (1903) and a Coffret aux serpents (1897–99), both housed in the Musée d’Orsay. For example, noted ceramicist Charles Virion, the number of different materials and processes involved in producing each box meant that production was complex and that several various artisans were needed to create each one. The atelier’s pieces, according to Philippe Jullian, are more Neo-Byzantine than art nouveau.

Sources

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 25). Armand Point. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 04:33, April 2, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Armand_Point&oldid=1008866231

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