The Clown Monsieur Auguste at the Cirque Fernando, Paris, c. 1890
Oil on panel, H. 0.27 m; W. 0.22 m
Signed lower right: HG Ibels
Inscribed on the back: Mr. Auguste! Cirque Fernando / Ibels
Provenance: Private collection
Henri-Gabriel Ibels was a French illustrator, printmaker, painter and author. He studied at the Académie Julian with Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard and was a member of Les Nabis from its 1889 founding. Ibels took part in Les Nabis’ exhibitions at Le Barc de Boutteville gallery. With Vuillard and Maurice Denis he soon caught the public eye and earned the nickname ‘le Nabis journaliste’. Ibels’ images were powerful and heavily graphic, in keeping with the movement that was a generous admixture of fine art, graphic design and advertising, as seen in the lithographs and posters for theater, cabaret, and book illustration.
The present image comes from the legendary Cirque Fernando in Paris, which at the end of the 19th century was recorded by artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir. Monsieur Auguste was a reknowned clown at the circus.