07 February 2011

An original drawing by CHM's grandfather

A few days ago CHM asked me if I had ever had an original drawing by his grandfather mounted and put in a frame. The answer is no. I've conserved it preciously, but I haven't had it framed. Here it is, digitized on a flatbed scanner.

One question I have about framing it is whether I ought to cut the paper the drawing was done on or leave it whole. Below is a photo of the whole page.

Advice, anyone? CHM? By the way, I've posted photos of some of Charles-Henri Michel's artwork here, here, and here over the past few years.


  1. Definitely, do not cut the paper. If the artist didn't then you shouldn't now. When you frame it, be sure the the framer "floats" the drawing rather than gluing or taping it to a mat.

  2. Hi Ken,

    I don't know how good a framer you are. I've been going to Boesner's art supply store in Champigny (they just opened a new store in Paris) and the framing staff there always have excellent ideas. I don't know if you have good frame shops, maybe in Tours, but I would get good advice and perhaps splurge on having a professional do it.
    About cropping it or not - it's yours. The artist, had he had it framed, might have cropped it, but probably did not think it was a finished work for framing; you don't know. He may have started with the head there thinking he might continue, or he may have been just sketching as we doodle and could have filled up the lower space with something else. How do you like seeing it?

  3. Hi Peter, hey, I never answered your question about whether we might start keeping chickens now that we have the new bell. The answer is no, probably not. I'd like to but Walt says no. And he's right -- having a cat and a dog already ties us down quite a bit.

    Ellen, I'll see how the two pieces we are having framed in Montrichard come out, then make a decision. I'm not going to try to do it myself.

  4. My advice is to frame it un cut. It loos far better in its original form.
    Peter Corke

  5. In my opinion, you should crop the picture. The head and shoulders is a beautiful drawing that you can display and admire. The unfinished part adds nothing to the picture and in fact to my eye makes it look unbalanced and far less attractive.

    I'm sure there are lots of good reasons for leaving it as it is, from a specialist's point of view. Perhaps you could ask the framing shop's advice on how it might be possible to display the whole picture to best advantage - they might be able to do a mock-up to help you decide.

  6. Ken... as a photographer and designer, I'll throw my ha'penceworth in... don't cut it! There is a "Rule of Thirds" in all picturework that affects how you look at the picture and the artist here has positioned the drawing on the paper to allow for this; whether or not anything else was meant to be drawn on the paper, who knows... also, my father, who was involved in antiques for the latter part of his life would also have said don't... but for financial reasons.
    If you want to see if cropping it still works for you, cut a square of the dimensions of the cropped picture out of something bigger than the existing work and very much darker... black polythene usually works.... then sit and look at it... first with the 'frame' and then 'au naturel'... and then with the frame again.
    As Peter says, float the picture... so you'll have to use more polythene to keep it in place.
    I've used a larger, under-glass picture in the past as the support and strips of polythene between the picture and the glass of the support as mounts at each corner.
    Good luck... and the descision is yours as Ellen says!!

  7. It is so comforting to see the diversity of opinions from people who read the same blog everyday over what looks like a very simple matter.

    I think Jean is right. It really doesn't matter what the artist had in mind when he did that drawing, since we'll never know. He's been dead for more than a hundred years. What counts, now, is how you might enjoy it within certain artistic boundaries. If it were a Leonardo da Vinci's or a Michel-Angelo's drawing it would probably be in a bank's vault as an investment or look to as a LdV's or a M-A's drawing more than anything else.

    If you have it cropped, which I suggest, make sure there is the same amount of paper left on the right and bottom sides as on the top and left sides so it is balanced and centered. It is unfortunate that I scribbled what it was so close to the drawing. That should be erased, but repeated on the back of the framing for future generations to know.

    You should ask D. de S..., the Péronne museum's curator his advice. What he would do, as a professional, if he had to frame that drawing. I'll email you his email address if you want. Just let me know.

  8. Merci CHM. By the way, you didn't scribble anything on the side of the paper that has the drawing on it. You wrote what you wrote on the back. I used Photoshop to put it on the front of the scanned version. Notice the picture of the full-size version: no inscription. Amitiés, Ken

  9. CHM, une idée, quand tu viendras nous voir cet été (j'espère que tu penses venir) nous irons voir la jeune femme qui tient la boutique Cadres et Art à Montrichard. Comme ça on trouvera la meilleure solution pour l'ecadrement du dessin...

  10. From and art historical perspective would suggest you don't crop the drawing but keep it in its original state--anything that has been altered is usually a no-no (value etc). But it is your drawing and framing it as is could easily 'irritate' you visually so it is up to you--you want to enjoy it after all. Whatever you decide agree with Peter:- make sure the framer floats it.

  11. What an absolutely lovely portrait. I can just see it hanging in your home. I personally would not crop it keeping in mind as Tim stated previously the "rule of thirds".

    Just my opinion...

  12. I've enjoyed reading today's comments. I guess it's up to you to do with the drawing as you like. It will be beautiful either way although I lean toward leaving the paper whole unless it adds too much expense to the project.

    Do you know who the woman is? I assume the subject is a woman since there is a wisp of hair on the nape of the neck.

  13. Big frame, classic, but big.
    No cutting, float mount.

    It's going to be a well admired piece of art int he house.

  14. I just checked the so-called rule of thirds, because I didn't know anything about it. I don't think I agree with it. What counts is your personal feeling, not something that is artificially imposed on you. If you want to apply the rule of thirds that is fine with me, if you feel comfortable with it. On the other hand, centering the figure puts it on the forefront and your attention is not diverted by a useless blank space.

    This study of the Page in my grand-father's painting in the Blois museum, Remise de l'Etendard, was meant to be only a head. If he had been interested in the body he would have sketched it and worked only on the head. So, in a way, it's a finished product, and that's why, when framed, it should be centered with enough blank space AROUND it, IMHO.

    Of course it would be a completely different story, if my grand-father had sketched, even faintly, the body of the Page.

  15. I don't think that I knew that this was a study for the Remise de l'Etendard that we saw in Blois a couple of years ago. Here's a link to the photo of the painting on my blog. The page is the figure in the center of the scene, no?

  16. Ken,
    To be truthful, neither did I. It's only when I saw it on your blog that I immediately thought it was a study for the Page. In the final painting, at least on the pastel that I sent you, the face is somewhat different, but I'm sure I am correct in my attribution. We took that pastel to Péronne last July.

    I have no idea how my last comment was duplicated at different times.

  17. Hmmm must be a handsome fellow!

    I'm rethinking about keeping the whole page due to your comments, chm- I think you have inherited some artistic genes.

  18. I'd check with an art expert. Could be cropping it would lessen the future value. An alternative might be to have a top of the line copy made of the drawing and crop and frame that, while leaving the original stored in a safe dry place. I had orignal artwork from a 3rd cousin framed and they stressed using acid free paper for mat and backing.

  19. How would anyone in the future ever know that it was cropped, if they were to see it that way?

    I think it's cute that every other comment here today is more or less the opposite of the previous opinion :) I think that sometimes it's not worth trying to save the monetary value of something if it means that you won't enjoy it (I know you'll enjoy it either way, of course, but I mean more the general idea of, for example, putting something like a piece of art away in a vault forever, just because it's worth something... how sad the artist would be to know that his work wasn't being seen or enjoyed!)

    I think it's AMAZING to know that this is a study for the Page in that other GORGEOUS painting of chm's grandfather... I was mesmerized by that one.

    If chm says, "crop!", I do, too! (Although I should probably say it en français, but I don't know how! "découpe-le!"??? Okay, wait, I looked it up, but it sounds funny to me: Use les bords!.


  20. I find the negative space
    appealing and adds a sense
    of mystery to the piece,
    drawing one's eye to the
    subject. A lovely drawing.

  21. Hi Ken,
    Just some jottings about the drawing that you want to frame. Apologies in that I am late in replying to your post.
    Picture the artist sitting infront of his model, hand resting on the drawing board and paper. Is he right-handed? Picture the hand and arm resting on the right side of the paper. I can easly picture a right-handed artist. One can verify this by looking at the cross hatching, it runs up and down on a arc created by a right handed artist.
    How far away was the person he was drawing from the artist's eye. By drawing the head a particular size to the page one can convey distance. The smaller the head, the further away… (an artist might use the term sight-size, rather than an arbitrary size to completely fill the page)
    How did the person look in the interior where he was sitting.
    The space of the page conveys a bit of this.
    The young man is looking to the side, into the blank space of the page and also into the space of the room. To crop the right side would limit the space that he is looking into.
    Can you picture with your mind's eye the torso, I think one can. To crop the bottom would make that dissapear.
    The artist chose the distance to which he placed the drawing board from the sitter.
    Deliberately chose the scale of the head to the page
    Deliberately chose not to put the head in the middle of the page.
    The drawing then is the combination of the black and gray marks along with the white space. It is a very good drawing, it would be a shame to cut the paper.

    Best regards.

  22. docente bem como seus alunos escolhem uma acontecimento.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?