Victor Petit

Birth: 1817


Victor Petit (1817-1871) is an architectural draftsman, lithographer and French writer born in 1817 in Troyes (Aube) and died in 1871 in Aix-les-Bains. He is the son of Michel Victor Petit, who became a drawing teacher at Sens College, and Marie-Rose Baltet. His younger brother, Stanislas, devoted himself to industrial and geometric drawing. He is a student of Jean-Simeon Fort , painter of battles to which he will borrow the taste of detail and great prospects. He was also a disciple of Lemercier, the famous inventor of chromolithography. From 1838, he collaborated with the Yearbook Yonne , including its scenic Guide Yonne department which will be published as itineraries for more than twenty years (1842-1864).

Victor Petit collaborates regularly from 1838 to 1844 to the magazine Arts of the Middle Ages directed by Alexandre du Sommerard , founder of the museum of Cluny 1. He gives several plates in the atlas of the great work published under the same title. His work is highly appreciated: "The committee (Arts and Monuments) gives the highest praise to these drawings executed in a new way, specific to Mr. Victor Petit, and which allows him to accentuate, as an architect, the most minute details, the shapes of the bases and capitals. The effect and the beauty of the drawing, far from losing to this geometrical exactitude, are, on the contrary, raised with more intensity. The committee highly appreciates this method which reconciles the requirements of archeology and the quirks of the picturesque " 2.

His father contributed to Baron Taylor's Picturesque Travels , notably to the volumes of Auvergne (1829-33), then Languedoc (1833-34-35-37), even as the lithographic genre began to become commonplace. He himself then worked as a draftsman or lithographer, in Picardy (1835-40-45), in Brittany (1845-46), in Dauphine (started in 1843, published in 1854), and in Champagne ( begun in 1841, published in 1857). He also participates, as a lithographer, in the Ancienne Auvergne of Adolphe Michel, as well as in the Vendee Monumentale and the Maine and Anjou of Baron de Wismes. He also frequents archaeologist Arcisse de Caumont.

Like many "bohemian" artists of his time, Victor Petit travels a lot. He accompanies Du Sommerard twice in Italy (1840 and 1842) 3. He will return there in 1854 with Didron the elder 4. In the meantime, he has published a long series of Swiss and Savoyard Chalets (at Avanzo and Gambart, at least 80 color plates), 5 views of England, Germany, and so on. The subtitle of his New Architecture (1856) specifies: Collection of modern constructions executed in France, England, Germany, Italy, drawn from nature. As his friend Challe tells us in 1856, "Every year M. Petit leaves Paris in the summer, and begins his artistic wanderings; he has already traveled a great part of Europe, pencil in hand, always observing and drawing; his cartoons contain an incredible amount of views of all kinds, no one better than he has known and designed all the monuments of Europe. " 7

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Among the historical monuments, Victor Petit particularly likes castles. He began with that of Fleurigny , near Sens, in 1838, then he illustrated the work of Chaillou des Barres on Ancy-le-Franc, Saint-Fargeau, Chastellux and Tanlay (1845, 12 plates). He drew an album of 9 plates on the castle of Hautefort (Dordogne) in 1849 (but published ten years later), and wrote the notice of that of Pinon (Aisne), owned by Ernest Dubois de Courval. But its interest is clarified with Picturesque Architecture, or Monuments of xv and xvi E centuries, collection of 100 boards published with Boivin (nd) 5 [if it is not confused with the following], the Castles of France of 15th and 16th centuries (102 plates, around 1853-54), and especially its Castles of the Loire Valley of the 15th , 16th and 17th centuries , drawn from nature and lithographed by VP (Paris, Boivin , 1864, lithograph Godard or Becquet brothers). 2 large folio volumes of 50 boards each. The two volumes follow approximately the course of the river, the separation taking place in Indre-et-Loire. These are most often architect's views (elevations of facades), scrupulously accurate. On the occasion of the Congress archeologique de France held in Saumur (1862), he became a historian and gave a remarkable lecture on "the architecture of castles in Touraine and Anjou in the fifteenth and sixteenth century."

Victor Petit is also known for his views of the Pyrenees. From the end of the 1840s, leaving Switzerland, he traveled to spas, either for his own health or to accompany rich sponsors. It publishes collections devoted to each city of water "and its surroundings" (mainly Luchon, but also Bagnères de Bigorre, Cauterets, Saint-Sauveur, Barèges, the Good waters, the Hot waters, or Pau), with variable composition , suitable for all budgets. The total represents more than 120 boards, of rather unequal quality. His masterpiece is a great panorama of the Pyrenees mountains taken from the Place de Pau, "an accuracy such as the smallest cottage is indicated" 8. The collections are published by Bassy in Pau, at Dulon in Bagneres-de-Bigorre, in Paris by the Thierry brothers, and finally in Monrocq (after 1860). Its forerunners or competitors are the remarkable Melling, Cervini, Jacottet, Gorse, Ciceri, Edouard Paris, or Alexandre de Bar (also published by Monrocq). Some show the same minutia, like Gorse, who, however, masters architecture less well; and especially Ciceri, whose science of contrasts gives to its cascades and rocks an almost photographic impression. Victor Petit strives to equal it, and sometimes succeeds but never exceeds it.

His meeting around 1853 with the brothers Monrocq, specialized in maps and color plans, seems to mark a turning point in his career, which will move towards architecture. This company was founded in 1848 by Jean-Noel Monrocq (1819-1913), who was, if not the inventor of zinc lithography, at least the first to use it in 1865, then Lucien Monrocq succeeded him. It was located at 3 rue Suger , not far from the Cluny hotel. Victor Petit, without abandoning the historical monuments, made about 600 boards in 9 collections, exclusively dedicated to the contemporary architecture. He is also qualified architect in the death certificate of his father, in 1865 in Sens, but his diploma was not found. From December 1853 9 appears the first delivery of the Habitations champetres , at the office of the newspaper The School of drawing and Monrocq brothers (without date): "This work will consist of 100 boards and will be finished next March" (1855 in fact, it continues until September); the boards appeared in black in the "Album" attached to the newspaper, then in colored collection. It is then Architecture nouveau (1856, 50 boards of modern constructions executed in France and neighboring countries), Small models of architecture (1857, 50 boards), followed by " Small drawings (new collection of 100 boards, 1867, illustrating public or private buildings of mediocre invoice), country houses around Paris (1858, 50 boards, facades and plans), " Parks and gardens around Paris " (1861, 50 boards), " Small picturesque constructions " (1867 , 50 boards, simple drawings on zinc, except the factories and ornaments of parks), " Habitations cosmopolites, collection of houses... of all the countries " (1868, 50 boards, published on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition of 1867 ) , followed in 1869 by a " new collection of houses... " (40 plates, still at Monrocq) Although this production, which is also very unequal, could be described as "industrial" (Daudin) 10 , some views, especially the first ones, are nicely colored thanks to e to the Monrocq processes, and very decorative.

These models of architecture, with didactic purpose, are supplemented by real manuals of drawing: Course of landscape (1853, 24 pl); The School of Drawing (published in newspaper, to which Petit would have participated); The Paris Schoolboy, or the ABC of drawing ; 52 collections, classified in 9 categories (linear drawing, figure, landscape...), were on sale in 1867 11 ; Victor Petit is the author of twelve of them 12. To this must be added Small Linear Drawing Exercises (40 plates, sometimes attributed to his brother Stanislas), Communal Constructions (30 plates), and Monumental Architecture (large scale historical church drawings, 5 plates)

Around 1858, Victor Petit left the Pyrenees for Provence, with a climate more temperate for his health. At the time, the Côte d'Azur only happens in winter. The artist is interested in the antiquities of Frejus ( Sketches of the Roman monuments of Frejus , first published in the Monumental Bulletin of 1864, which is completed in 1867 with Frejus, Forum Julii, descriptive note..., 142 pages, illustrated he is also the author of a guide of the city of Arles , remained manuscript 13.

He settled his residence in Cannes in 1864, protected by the Duke and Duchess of Vallombrosa. But it is too late to publish a truly artistic collection, the monumental work of Benoist "Nice and Savoy" coming out. In addition to the traditional Album of Cannes, Views in color after the watercolors of VP 14 , his tourist concern is manifested in the project of a large map of the city (which will not see the light of day), and in a guide , Strolls of foreigners in the city and its environs (nd, circa 1865, followed by a list of hotels, pensions and villas), constantly reworked and increased; but despite his efforts, he will never be able to compete with English guides. He entered the office of the new "Society of Natural and Historical Sciences, Letters and Fine Arts of Cannes and Arr. De Grasse", founded in 1868. He is still the author of three panoramas taken since the sea, Nice (two distances) and Villefranche ; these long leaflets (up to 1.85 m.), executed with the drawing-line, are very far from having the artistic qualities of its panoramas of the Pyrenees; but the colors of the Monrocq brothers manage to give them a certain charm.

Victor Petit had kept his father's house in Sens 8. He is the author of many notices and guides for travelers in the Yonne. He also publishes archaeological maps mainly focusing on the Gallo-Roman remains of the department (1851). Finally, he has the project of gathering his notes and drawings (more than 2000 8 ) in a large work, no longer organized in itineraries but dealing with the heritage of all the communes, like the monumental statistics of Calvados to which he had once collaborated. In 1871, he began to publish the first volume (entitled 2nd) of his description of the Cities and Campaigns of the Yonne on the district of Avallon , but the four other districts planned (1-Auxerre, 3-Joigny, 4 -Sense, 5-Thunder) will never appear. He died indeed at the age of fifty-four years, probably of phthisis , in Aix-les-Bains where he had gone to take care of himself.

He was a member of the Council of the French Society of Archeology for the conservation of monuments, member of the Institute of Provinces (founded by Arcisse de Caumont ), and several local associations. It is the Archaeological Society of Sens , since its foundation in 1845, the Society of Sciences of Yonne (late 1858), the Society of Sciences and Letters... of Cannes since its foundation (1868) 12 (pages 43-44, and others?

The most beautiful works of Victor Petit are as rare as sought after, including its Chalets and lithographs castles of the Loire. His publisher awarded him 2,000 lithographs and more than 10,000 drawings 10. Those concerning the Yonne, long preserved by the publisher Gallot (father and son), were auctioned in the 1920s. Those he kept in his house in Cannes, bequeathed to the local society 12 and sold by it to the city in 1878, seem today lost.

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