Rare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet CostumesRare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet Costumes

This set of three, quite charming gouache/watercolours are indeed collectors’ items.
As you can see from the photos, all three ballet studies have a huge, decorative appeal. They look wonderful in any room. But there is also an important and interesting back story to these Gouache/watercolours.

Although they are not actually dated, they are stamped in several places with the name “H Bodart, dessinateur costumier of 16 Rue de Pelican in Brussels”.

Henry Bodart lived from 1874-1940, but a H Bodart was associated with a Belgian poet Theodore Hannon in "Pierrot Macabre; ballet-pantomine" in 1886. Bodart’s costume designs for the ballet would make these (being late 19th century) very much within the period and style of the Art Nouveau. And Belgium was where the Art Nouveau style began.

Hannon was a minor Belgian poet who turned to erotic poetry in later life. But the first mentioned Henry Bodart would have been only 12 at the time. The extended entry for the book lists “Costumes de M. Feignaert, dessinés par M. H. Bodart”. When one presses the link for all authors, up pops the name Henry Bodart.

The trail more specifically leads to 14 water colour drawings on tinted paper 24 x 16 cm (these three measure 22.8 x 17.5 cm), and all but one of which bear the names of characters in the New York public library. Those in NY have the stamp H Bodart, dessinateur costumier which would seem to be identical. In the NY library they are numbered 1 - 15, with number 5 missing.

All three pictures are stamped with Bodart’s name but two have names of the characters intended for the costumes. One appears to be “Albertine” and the second has written “Doudou”. They are enchanting drawings, full of colour, detail, and delicacy.

One character, “Doudou” seems to have a delightful tail and on each of her shoulders she wears bouquets of flower from which hang streamers, which also adorn her hair. She holds a stick with ribbons and possibly a balloon. Her stance is that of a ballet position.

“Albertine” wears a jaunty sailor type costume and again stands in a ballet position, with graceful arm and hand movement. She presents a rather saucy character, wearing her hoop earring, an anchor draped around her shoulder, and a fetching sailor’s hat.
The third figure lacks a name, but makes up for it with a fey charm and a sensual costume, festooned with delicate flowers, both on the bodice, around her hips, on one shoulder and in her hair. She holds a staff with possibly a placard or a musical score. And again, she stands in a specific ballet position.

All three pictures are beautifully framed and mounted and all the pictures are in excellent condition.

The actual pictures measure 9 inches x 7 inches. The framed pictures all measure 17 inches x 13 ½ inches. They all are triple mounted with a rose and then gold mount on cream mount background. The wood frames are all wonderfully stepped and antiqued in silver frames.

Price for the set of 3

Item ID: 153A

Rare Set of Three Art Nouveau Belgian, Mixed Media Studies for Ballet Costumes

£450 £400 GBP SALE  ~ $504 USD

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Barbara Acton-Bond