GREVIN Alfred – 5 inscribed envelopes with together 48 fullpage watercolour designs for 5 operettas. Paris, 1875-1880. Small folio (30,5 x 23 cm to 34 x 25,5 cm).
Alfred Grévin (28 January 1827 – 5 May 1892) was a well-known sculptor, cartoonist and theater costume designer. His caricatures and drawings were published in many contemporary newspapers and magazines such as Le Gaulois, Le Journal Amusant, Le Petit Journal pour Rire and Le Charivari. Several of his theater designs were released as albums. In 1882 he founded with journalist Arthur Meyer the Musée Grévin in Paris, which is one of the oldest wax museums in Europe.
Grévin’s designs are fancy, piquant and easily drafted. He was remarkable popular at his time and sometimes even was compared to Paul Gavarni.
From 1873 to 1875 Jacques Offenbach was the director of the Théatre de la Gaité in Paris. At this time Grévin designed the costumes for several operettas including Offenbach’s „Genevieve de Brabant“, which are part of this collection, and the 673 costumes for Offenbach’s opéra-féerie „Le voyage dans la lune“, loosely based on the novel „From the earth to the moon“ by Jules Verne.
Our collection contains costume designs for the following operettas.
1) Genevieve de Brabant. Opéra bouffe by Jacques Offenbach. New performance on 25 February 1875 at the Théâtre de la Gaité. Libretto by Louis-Adolphe Jaime and Etienne Tréfeu. – 14 designs.
2) Le Chat Botté. Le Grand Ballet des Nations. By Eugene Boudeau. World premiere on 18 May 1878 at the Théâtre de la Gaité. Libretto by Étienne Tréfeu and Ernest Blum. – 10 designs.
3) La Camargo. Opera-comique by Charles Lecocq. World premiere on 20 November 1878 at the Théâtre de la Renaissance. Libretto by Eugene Leterrier and Albert Venloo. – 8 designs.
4) Le Billet de Logement. Opera-comique en 3 actes by Léon Vasseur. World premiere on 16 Novemer 1879 at the Théâtre des Fantaisies-Parisiennes. Libretto by Paul Burani and Maxime Boucheron. – 8 designs.
5) Les Pilules du Diable. Feerie en trois actes by Albert Vizentini. World premiere with the music of Vizentini on 8 April 1880 at the Théâtre Chatelet. Libretto by Ferdinand Laloue and Auguste Anicet-Bourgeois. – 8 designs.
This is the largest collection of finished designs by Alfred Grévin on the market for decades. Sketches and caricatures by Grévin appear regularly, but finalised costume designs are very rare and in most cases can’t be attributed to a certain play. The envelopes of our collection bear the title of each operetta and are inscribed by Alfred Grévin himself. The covers for „Geneviève de Brabant“ are further decorated with 4 smaller coloured costume designs by Grévin.
Of particular interest are the designs for ‚Genevieve de Brabant‘ by Jacques Offenbach, ‚La Camargo‘ by Charles Lecocq and ‚Le Billet de Logement‘ by Leon Vasseur. The designs for the operettas by Charles Lecocq and Leon Vasseur even represent the costumes for their world premieres.
condition: all designs in very good condition; some envelopes with damages; no restaurations
for Grévin: Beraldi, Les Graveurs du XIX siecle, VII, p. 238-260; Thieme & Becker XV, p.17; J.-P. Fontaine, La vie tumultueuse d’Alfred Grévin (1993).
for the operettas: Stoullig & Noel, Les Annales des théatre et de la musique. (1875-1880).