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The collection of Félicien Rops letters and other material, circa 1864 - circa 1910. WIL.001.001
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Collection Details
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  • Arrangement note
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Processing Information note
  • Conditions Governing Access note

  • Title: The Michael G. Wilson collection of Félicien Rops letters and other material
    Identifier/Call Number: WIL.001.001
    Contributing Institution: Los Angeles County Museum of Art Balch Art Research Library
    Language of Material: French
    Container: 1-5
    Physical Description: 5.2 Linear feet 5 boxes.
    Date: circa 1864 - circa 1910
    creator: Wilson, Michael G., 1942-

    Arrangement note

    The materials in this collection showed little arrangement reflective of original order, apart from the folder of manuscript materials by Henry Detouche. To facilitate access, the materials were arranged in series according to their type:
    Series 1: Manuscript materials (chronological): Draft letters and notes by Henry Detouche; Autograph letters and manscript material.
    Series 2: Excerpted published material. The titles of the items in this series are formulated as follows: article title; publication title; author (first last); city of publication; pages. The articles are then arranged in alphabetical order by author's last name.
    Series 3: Complete journals. The journals are arranged in alphabetical order by title.
    Series 4: Auction Catalogues. The titles of items in this series are formulated as follows: title of catalogue with collection name. location; date; name of commissaires-priseurs; name of expert. The catalogues are then arranged chronologically.
    Series 5: Booksellers' Bulletins (arranged chronologically).
    Series 6: Bound materials and books. The bound volumes and books have been catalogued separately and placed in Special Collections.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Collection donor Michael G. Wilson is best known as the producer and screenwriter of films in the James Bond series (per Prints and Drawings curator Naoko Takahatake). Wilson, born in New York City in 1942, obtained degrees in electrical engineering and law and later joined the film business of his stepfather, Albert R. Broccoli. In 2008 he was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire. In addition to his work in film, Wilson is a noted collector and expert in nineteenth century photography, and co-authored the book Pictorialism in California with Dennis Read.
    About Félicien Rops
    Born on July 7, 1833, in Namur, Belgium, Rops moved to Brussels at the age of 20 where he enrolled in the Atelier Libre de St Luc. Working at first primarily in lithography, Rops’ artistic career began with his caricatures of political figures published in a student paper, Le Crocodile, and later in a satirical weekly he founded, L’Uylenspiegel. By 1865 Rops had mostly ceased working in lithography; in 1862 he learned etching and traveled to Paris to study the technique with leading practitioners, Félix Bracquemond and Jules Jacquemart.
    In 1868, along with fifteen other Belgian artists, Rops helped establish the Société de l’Art Libre. The Société was formed to promote artistic freedom and to advance the Realist movement, in reaction against the official Brussels Salon. The Société published a bi-monthly journal and held its own exhibitions. The following year Rops created the Société Internationale des Aquafortistes; members of the Société included Rops' fellow printer and collaborator, François Nys. Later, after the dissolution of these two groups, Rops joined another group of Belgian artists calling themselves Les XX, formed in 1883 by Octave Maus. Les XX held annual exhibitions featuring their own work along with the works of artists invited from outside Belgium. Rops exhibited his painting "Pornocrates" to a scandalous reception at the Salon des XX in 1886.
    During the years 1864 to 1871, Rops created engraved illustrations for publisher Auguste Poulet-Malassis. Through this collaboration Rops came to befriend Charles Baudelaire who commissioned him to create the frontispiece to his Les Epaves in 1866. Beginning in the mid-1860s Rops also produced illustrations for the Gay and Doucé printing house, including illustrations for a minuscule edition of “Les Bas-Fonds de la Société.”
    Baudelaire’s influence can be found in several major themes of Rops’ work, including the representations of death and disease in a female form. Rops was well known for his depictions of erotic scenes, often incorporating satyrs and devils. His work earned him the admiration of many of the most prominent Symbolist authors and he was reputed to be highly paid for illustrations of their work. He designed ten illustrations for Barbey d’Aurévilly’s short story collection, Les Diaboliques, in 1879, which were reproduced later in a separate edition and again in larger format. In 1882 Rops began work on a series of soft-ground etchings, never completed, called Les Sataniques.
    During his lifetime Rops was celebrated for his work as an etcher. In 1896 the journal La Plume devoted an issue to Rops and a retrospective of his work was mounted at the Hôtel Drouot in Paris. Another exhibition followed later that year in Brussels. Rops died on August 23, 1898 at his home in Essonnes, France.
    Biographical information was compiled from the following sources:
    "Photography Expert Michael G. Wilson Becomes an Art Fund Fund Trustee." Artdaily.org, May 10, 2010, http://www.artdaily.com/index.asp?int_sec=11&int_new=37948&int_modo=1 (Accessed 7 November 2011).
    British Museum, "François Nys," The British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/search_the_collection_database/term_details.aspx (Accessed 22 November 2011).
    Hoffman, Edith. “Félicien Rops.” In The Dictionary of Art. Edited by Jane Turner. New York: Macmillan, 1996.
    Musée Rops, “Biography of Félicien Rops,” Musée Rops, http://museerops.be/espace/documents/Biographie_Rops_Eng.pdf (Accessed 1 November 2011).
    Exteens, Maurice. “ROPS (Félicien).” In Dictionnaire biographique des artistes contemporains. Edited by René Edouard-Joseph. Paris : Librarie Grund, 1934.

    Scope and Contents note

    This collection is comprised of manuscript materials, excerpts, journals, auction catalogues, booksellers' bulletins, and books by Félicien Rops and his contemporaries. Rops, a Belgian engraver, illustrator and painter, is associated with the Belgian avant-garde and the Symbolists of the late 19th century. Rops gained fame through his use of erotic and Satanic imagery and his mastery of the Realist style. The materials date from the 1870s to circa 1913.
    The series of manuscript materials is divided into two subseries, one containing draft letters and notes for published articles by Henry Detouche and the other grouping together handwritten notes or letters to and from Rops and others in his circle, including correspondence on the topic of the purchase and delivery of a printing press in 1876.
    Published articles and journals make up the majority of the collection. The series of published material is primarily composed of articles about or by Rops, excerpted from their parent publications. Many of the journal articles were enclosed or glued into the journal's original paper covers with surrounding pages removed. The series of complete journals contains periodicals whose complete contents are intact.
    The series of auction sales catalogues documents the many sales held primarily in Paris at the Hôtel Drouot featuring Rops’ work. Some catalogues have been annotated with prices. Similarly, the series of booksellers’ bulletins is comprised of book or print vendor catalogues, each listing numerous works by Rops for sale. The bound volumes series contains monographs as well as journal articles that have been bound together.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    The materials in this collection were donated to LACMA by screenwriter and producer Michael G. Wilson, in association with his gift to the museum of several hundred prints by Félicien Rops. The Rops prints were accessioned over the span of several years, from 1979 to 1984.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Contact the Balch Research Library at 323-856-6118 or library@lacma.org for information on publishing or reproducing materials included in these records. Permission will be granted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art as the owner of the physical materials, and does not imply permission from the copyright holder. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain all necessary permissions from the copyright holder.

    Preferred Citation note

    [Description of item], The Michael G. Wilson Collection of Félicien Rops letters and other material, Los Angeles County Museum of Art Balch Art Research Library, WIL.001.001.

    Processing Information note

    The materials were transferred into acid-free, buffered folders and containers in October 2011. Some fragile documents were preservation photocopied. Modern, non-archival folders were discarded. The two books and five volumes of bound material were catalogued separately and housed in Special Collections.
    The manuscript materials were described according to the standards contained in Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books), 2007 revision.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Open for use by qualified researchers and by appointment only through the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Balch Art Research Library. Telephone 323-857-6118 or email library@lacma.org.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Detouche, Henry Julien, 1854-1913
    Rops, Félicien, 1833-1898
    Art criticism
    Art, Belgian--19th century
    Auction catalogs
    Clippings (information artifacts)
    Drafts (documents)
    Graphic arts
    Journals (periodicals)
    Letters (correspondence)
    Sales catalogs
    Symbolism (Art movement)