As I continue to work on my project of exploring children’s picture books that describe young people and young animals visiting art museums, I’ve come across an interesting French book, L’Ange Disparu, by Max Ducos (2008), in which a woman in one of the paintings asks a bored boy on a school tour to help find her “ange,” who has escaped from the painting and is at large in the museum (This is one of almost thirty picture books I’ve found that describe figures from paintings entering galleries or gallery-goers entering paintings).
In this one, the boy enters a series of paintings, asks people depicted in them if they’ve seen the child, gets advice and various objects that will help him in his search, and finally tracks the child down and brings him back to the painting where he belongs—a depiction of Venus and Cupid (see below). What’s especially interesting to me here is that the artworks in this imaginary museum are all based on actual works by famous artists—but none of them are identified in the book itself.
Some are fairly easy to identify. For instance, the boy visiting the gallery enters a painting as shown here:
It’s fairly easy to figure out that the painting he’s in is Pouissin’s Automne, which depicts the Biblical story of the scouts returning from the land of Canaan to show Moses the giant grapes that grow there
in another painting, a woman offers the gallery visitor a butterfly net to help catch the child with:
The painting she appears in is fairly easily identifiable as this one by Berthe Morisot:
It’s even fairly easy to figure out the origin of a painting only half shown beside the Morisot in L’Ange Disparu:
This is Gauguin’s Red Dog:
There are also images of what are clearly a Rembrandt self-portrait, Rodin’s Thinker, and a Jackson Pollack
But then things get a little more difficult. Some of the paintings in Ducos’ imaginary gallery are especially difficult to search using tools like Google Images because the figures in the paintings as depicted here are interacting with the boy in the gallery, and are therefore in different positions than they are in the original paintings. Here’s the painting the child has disappeared from as it appears in L’Ange Disparu:
After lots of searching, and some help from my son Asa, I’ve concluded that this represents this painting:
But who painted it? The one you’re looking at is identified online as being by Jacques Charlier, who was an 18th century miniaturist. But since it’s not a miniature in the gallery in the book, and since Charlier often copied larger works by his friend Boucher in his miniatures, might it be by Boucher?? The closest Boucher to it that I can find is this one:
Which is quite different. But then, Boucher painted a lot of depictions of Venus and Cupids, and maybe one of them hasn’t made it on to the Internet yet.
Meanwhile, a couple of the art works depicted in L’Ange Disparu seem to clearly represent work by specific artists–but not necessarily specific works by those artists. For instance:
The sculpture here looks very much like a Giacometti.
But the sculpture in the book, without apparent breasts, is more likely male.
Is there a similar male Giacometti?
Behind the Giacometti is what clearly appears to be a painting by Yves Klein in International Klein Blue. But since it’s consists only of a blue field of colour, no further specific identification of a specific Klein painting is possible.
This is, I suspect, meant to be a Picasso:
But I can’t find a similar one anywhere on line.
The large painting the boy passes on his way up to the second level of the museum in a pyramidal glass elevator (echoes of the one in the courtyard of the Louvre?) is clearly a depiction of the the Assumption of the Virgin Mary–a scene depicted by many artists across the centuries.
It’s similar to a painting by Rubens in terms of how the figures in it are arranged, but different enough that I wonder if the illustrator had a different painting of that subject in mind.
And finally, this painting, which figures centrally in the L’Ange Disparu, looks a lot like a Mondrian:
But I can’t find a Mondrian with green in it online. When the boy enters the Mondrian-like painting in L’Ange Disparu, it turns out to be an apparently infinite 3D world of boxes in bright colours, more Iike LEGO than Mondrian.
Might this possibly be viewed as a misuse of the original art? I find myself wondering if the addition of green in the first view of the painting has something to do with copyright restrictions.Perhaps Mondrian and Picasso, unlike most of the other artists in the book, haven’t been dead long enough to lack legal representation?
I’d be grateful for any suggestions about possible sources for any of the ones I haven’t been able to identify, If you have any ideas, please insert them in the comments below.