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In Pursuit of Light and Leisure

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The Protector in the Wings (Le protecteur dans les coulisses)

ca. 1881
12 3/4 x 9 9/16 in. (32.4 x 24.3 cm)

Jean Louis Forain
French (Reims, France, 1853 – 1931, Paris)

Object Type: Drawing
Medium and Support: Dark-gray ink, watercolor, and gouache on wove paper, laid down on board
Credit Line: Gift of Dr. and Mrs. James H. Lockhart, Jr.
Accession Number: 1986.116
Link to this object
Location: Not currently on view
Collection: Lockhart Collection

Forain, a follower and protégé of Edgar Degas, participated in the Impressionist exhibitions of 1879, 1880, 1881, and 1886. He was influenced by Impressionist theories on light and color. His watercolors, pastels, and paintings focused on Parisian popular entertainment and themes of modernity, including scenes of the ballet, the opera, and the racetrack.

The ballerinas of 19th-century France often came from the lower classes of society and were viewed as little more than cabaret performers. Ballet dancers frequently had a wealthy male patron who also served as her protector, escort and lover. Along with his interest in theater and ballet, Forain’s work is characterized by his satirical commentary on modern life and, in his later years, interest in social injustice. In this drawing, the attentive stance and focused gaze of the backstage “protector” suggests the proprietary nature of his relationship with an unseen ballerina as she performs on stage.

[Label copy from Monet: Vision and Process exhibition, 2018]

Curatorial file notes marks on verso of mount: two paper labels, one for a London shipping company, one for a Paris shipping company; a French customs stamp; and a 1985 gallery label from Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox, London.

Maurice Monestier, Paris; sold by his widow, Sotheby's, London, December 7, 1966, as lot 8; purchased at that sale by Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, London (dealers); R. M. Light & Co., Santa Barbara, California (dealers); Dr. and Mrs. James H. Lockhart, Jr., Geneseo, New York, May 1986; their gift to the Gallery in 1986

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