ILLUSTRATORS & AUTHORS
Maurice Leloir is considered a historical painter, watercolorist, engraver, illustrator, playwright and film producer. He was born in Paris on the 1st of November 1851 and died on the 7th of October 1940. Leloir was born into a family of successful artists.He received his formal training with his father historical painter Jean-Baptiste Auguste Leloir (1809-1992), his mother watercolorist H Colin (1820-1874), daughter of Alexander-Marie Colin (1798-1873) and with his older brother Alexander-Louis Leloir (1843-1884).
Maurice Leloir was elected President of the French Watercolor Society. He was an incredibly successful illustrator. Illustrating works by philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), playwright Jean-Baptiste Molier. (1622-1673), and novelists Honor de Balzac (1799-1859). He was also talented playwright. Leloir was the founder and president the Costume Society in 1906 and wrote the Dictionary of Costume, which he also illustrated.
The career of Maurice Leloir illustrates the fin de siecle confluence of literature, theater, and cinema. Leloir's "Manon Lescaut, 1892" (Dahesh Museum of Art, NY) is based on the penultimate scene from the Histoire du Chevalier des Grieux et de Manon Lescaut, the 1731 novel by Prevost.
In 1884, Jules Massenet's opera "Manon" premiered in Paris. The success of this lyric drama probably led Leloir, who designed theater posters for Massenet's operas, to illustrate a new edition of the novel published the following year. "Manon Lescaut" by Leloir, after its premiere at the 1892 Paris Salon, was exhibited in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the same year in which Giacomo Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" premiered in Turin. The scene, found in the Puccini opera, but not Massenet's, depicts the Chevalier des Grieux with his dead lover Manon in the then wilderness of Louisiana.
Leloir, himself, only crossed the Atlantic in 1928 at the invitation of the silent screen star Douglas Fairbanks to serve as an artistic advisor on the film The Man in the Iron Mask, staring Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford and based on the final novel in Alexandre Dumas' Les mousquetaires trilogy (1844-1850). Leloir's much re-published 1894 illustrations for Les trois mousquetaires, the first novel in the trilogy, had long been accepted, in Hollywood and elsewhere, as the novel's authentic illustrations and Fairbanks conceived his screenplay for The Man in the Iron Mask, as a sequel to his own hugely successful 1921 film The Three Musketeers. Leloir was also commissioned to design theatre scenes for Sarah Bernhardt.
Leloir was not only a recognized expert on the history of costume, but also one of the field's most important collectors. His 1920 gift to the Muse Carnavalet in Paris of 2000 costumes and accessories forms the core of the present-day Muse Galliera - Muse de la mode de la Ville de Paris.
Text courtesy Roughton Galleries, Houston