Stunning Art Nouveau bronze bust depicting the character "Lola" modelled in the midst of an inquisitive look. The study has a multi hued patination of colours that accentuate the very fine hand chased surface detail. Signed E Villanis, titled to the fore and with E V foundry marks located on the base.
Height: 28 cm
Width: 18 cm
Depth: 12 cm
Condition: Excellent Original Condition
Book Ref: Emmanuel Villanis by Josje Hortulanus-de Mik
Page No: 22
Lola is in fact a sort of mini-opéra-comique, with an overture (“Prélude”) and four numbers (“Le Songe”, “Le Rossignol”, “Tango”, “Conclusion”) interspersed with extensive dialogues in alexandrines. It is described as “a dramatic scene in verse for two characters”: Lola, a Spanish gypsy girl, a part written for a soprano who is obliged also to speak and dance, and Don Benites, a young Spanish nobleman, whose role is exclusively spoken. Saint-Saëns composed the music for the piano late in September 1900, but after the work was premièred on 21 January 1901 in the Salon of Le Figaro, the publisher Durand suggested orchestrating it. Since Saint-Saëns was then busy working on his opera Les Barbares, it was Charles Koechlin in the end who composed the orchestral score. Lola is exhausted, having escaped from an oppressive master who for three years ill-treated her. She values her freedom. She meets Don Bénites, who offers her a roof for the night, but when she insists on leaving, forces her to stay. He will allow her to leave only if she sings one of her gypsy songs to him. She sings a song about a nightingale (“Le Rossignol”) and wins her freedom, but the nobleman has fallen in love with her. He asks her to dance for him. She does so (“Tango”) and he is bewitched. Realising that he is not going to let her go, she draws a stiletto and lunges at his heart, but he parries the blow and is simply wounded. She runs off, while he comforts himself with the line “On se blesse parfois en touchant à la rose” (One sometimes gets hurt when touching a rose). Maintaining the Spanish tone throughout, Saint-Saëns’s charming music renders every nuance of the narrative. On the day after the première Le Figaro commended the work and “the inspiration of Saint-Saëns [which] is both powerful and delicate, both tender and cheerful, and above all eternally youthful”.
Emmanuel Villanis was an industrious man. He is believed to have created some 200 to 250 pieces. His oeuvre pre-eminently consisted of busts and full body statues. Most of these were manufactured in bronze, but there are also models in white metal and terra cotta. Different patinas were used. The bronzes were mainly cast by the Societé de Bronzes de Paris and can be recognised by the round stamp (cachet) at the back of the statue. In addition, reliefs, vases, lamps, clocks and ink stands are recorded . Vases and lamps were mostly made of tin, and there are also marble statues. Pieces in which ivory is used are as rare as silver statues.
Villanis was inspired by women. He dedicated almost his complete works to them. One model in particular was portrayed many times by him. His portrayals of children may be less known, but are nevertheless wonderfully done. His statues are always in perfect proportion and are full of expression: dreamy-eyed, happy, sirene, indifferent, cheeky, serious, sad, detached, melancholy.
His style can always be recognised by his use of hollowed out eyeballs. The name of the statue can usually be found on the base in scrolled script and the signature of Emmanuel Villanis is always visible and legible.
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