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Salons of 1879 and 1880

The 1879 volume of L’Art gave extensive coverage to the Salon of 1879 as well as the Universal Exposition of 1878 in four published parts of hundreds of pages each. Its folio pages measure 17 x 12 inches, allowing for illustrations generous in both size and number within a text whose large print is easy to read even within the smaller-font footnotes at the bottom of the page. Published in both Paris and London, L’Art was state-of-the-art in informative elegance (fig. 1). Melville made use of pages from part 2 of the 1879 volume in several ways beyond its coverage of the 1879 Salon that is our main concern here.

CAT 177 intro cover of L'Art part 2 french gallica.JPEG

Figure 1. Cover page of part 2 of 1879 volume of L’Art: revue hebdomadaire illustrée, design by John Watkins. Paris and London: A. Ballue, 1879.

This is the volume of L’Art that includes the essay on David Scott by Mary Heaton within whose capacious pages Melville appears to have stored his prints of Bosse’s Four Seasons (CAT 151-154). Included within the essay itself were the cartouche by A. Mitelli and the ornamental letter by G. Mitelli that began this installment of the essay, as well as the cul-de-lampe by Augustin Saint-Aubin that concluded it (CAT 114, 115, 164). This same issue of L’Art contains the essay on “The Fresques de Tiepolo dans la villa Valmarana, á Vicence” whose ornamental opening letter C by F. Magnini (CAT 67) was cut from page 13 and kept by Melville in the envelope from Snedecors along with the Old Testament ornamental letters cut from the 1728 Taferelen (CAT 24-48) and the Song of Solomon illustrations cut from Sudermann’s emblem books of the 1620s (CAT 50-62). The fragment of the engraving that appears on the back of Melville’s cut-out letter C is from one of several drawings after Tiepolo frescoes by C. E. Wilson (p. 14).

Four complete pages that Melville preserved from this volume of L’Art reproduce paintings from the Salon of 1879. These capacious pages, like those from the essay on David Scott, may have been used to house other prints from his collection, as he has written the word “Shakespeare” on the top of page 185 (see CAT 177; Melville's prints from Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery will appear in Chapter 6). But the pages of this journal are likely to have had more than a preservative function, as they are taken from proximate but not consecutive pages of Charles Tardieu’s forty-seven-page essay entitled “La Peinture au Salon de Paris, Itinéraire” (pp. 185, 186, 191, 192). The fact that each of these pages was assigned an acquisition number by the Berkshire Athenaeum after being donated by Eleanor Metcalf in 1952 increases the likelihood that Melville preserved them for the artworks they illustrated as well as for the prints that could be stored within them.

The four engravings that Melville preserved from the Salon of 1879 are embedded within Tardieu’s running commentary intended as a guide to the leading paintings in selected rooms of that year’s exhibition. His one engraving from the Salon of 1880 is a full-page reproduction illustrating Paul Leroi’s essay “Eaux-fortes nouvelles” in that year’s issue of L’Art.