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Style Other / Ref.15273

James Camille LIGNIER, At the Fencing Club, 1887

Width: 51'' ⅛  130cm
Height: 39'' ⅜  100cm
Depth: 2'' ¾  7cm

20th century

Good condition

This masterpiece depicting a fencing duel was executed by James Camille Lignier (Aignay-le-Duc, 1858 - Paris, c. 1926) and presented at the 1887 Salon.

This Burgundian artist was a student of Alexandre Cabanel and Henri Lehmann in Paris. He primarily painted portraits and landscapes, drawing inspiration from Brittany and Crozant in the Creuse region. He exhibited at Parisian salons between 1880 and 1889, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon houses several of his works.

The scene represents a duel in the prestigious setting of the Cercle de l’Escrime; this institution was founded in 1883 with the aim of providing Paris with a model fencing hall, depicted here by the painter. Although it was destroyed in 1909, the trophy of arms that was on the walls of the old hall, visible in the 1887 painting, can be seen on the walls of the new one.

The two protagonists are at the center, crossing swords. One, seen from behind, is depicted in the movement of a perfect lunge, attempting to reach his opponent, who is captured in a guard position, his left arm raised in a characteristic gesture of the sport. The athletes wear face masks, through which the painter still manages to reveal facial features; their white blouses buttoned at the shoulder are also part of the current fencer’s attire. Although the light highlights the main protagonists, the canvas also serves as a grand gallery of portraits, composed of all the spectators of the scene. The play of light and attire, as well as the systematic differentiation of features, produce subtle variations and give a particular rhythm to the composition.

The work was published in the Illustrated Catalogue of the 1887 Salon of French Artists, during which Lignier presented At the Fencing Circle, as well as a portrait.

The practice of fencing dates back to the origins of humanity, with sword combat. Initially solely a martial activity, it later became a martial art characterized by the elegance of movements before becoming a full-fledged sport. In the 19th century, it was classified alongside horseback riding, music, and dance as a genteel art. Fencing was featured in the first modern Olympic Games, held in Athens in 1896, with foil and sabre events. The épée became an Olympic discipline in 1900, and the practice of fencing at the Games continued to evolve: in 1924, women were admitted to compete in foil; in 1936, electrical apparatuses for more accurately counting points were introduced; and the 2020 Olympics saw the creation of two additional events in this discipline.

Price: on request

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