I am very fortunate not just to have such a dear friend, but also someone who graciously offered to share her perspective on this amazing artist, Philippe Ledoux, whom I call The Other Hermès Legend and two of his popular designs.
My friend Dee, a longtime fellow Hermes aficionado, is ready to share with us fascinating insights into two of the world’s most beloved Hermes designs, Ledoux’s Jumping and his Harnais de Cour.
Ladi has written a very comprehensive and enjoyable blog on the artist Philippe Ledoux in which she mentions his sense of humor. I would like to share with you two ways I see evidence of this in his Hermes carre designs.
I am generally reluctant to make statements about what an artist thought or felt when he designed his work. Who of us really knows what was going on in the mind of an artist unless he has left us clear notes? So what I give you is my own fanciful reaction to what I see before me.
The first is Jumping which was first released 1971. Here we see what are cameo scenes of open jumping in the show ring. Six horses and their riders are jumping over challenging obstacles. We see the show bridle and the rosettes, so we know this is horse show ring jumping as say opposed to steeplechase or fox hunting. We can ‘feel’ the tension and concentration of horse and rider as they clear massive hurtles.
If we listen closely we can hear the rider click softly to his mount and hear words to steady and focus him. We can ‘hear’ the leather creak and the horse give a grunt of super effort. We can ‘see’ exactly where the high bar is. BUT in his playfulness, Ledoux has removed all the bars and the horses are jumping nothing! Just flying through the air! Yet any rider can see those rails and knows exactly the angles and heights.
Much like the Impressionists, Ledoux was evidently a believer in viewer participation! What fun!
Another example of him engaging the viewer is his 1977 Harnais de Cour.
Here we see a pair of the finest carriage horses no doubt from the royal stables in their best parade harness. You can see them with their necks flexed just so, putting pressure on the bit to be off.
You can see their alert ears flicked back showing just a bit of well-behaved impatience, giving a toss of their heads to make the harness jingle a bit. You can hear the metallic scrape of a hoof on the cobblestones. But wait! There are no horses there! Ledoux has tricked our eye into seeing them even though they aren’t there.
I have my own playful vision of the head of Hermes, M. Dumas dumping a pile of harnesses next to Ledoux’s drawing board and saying, “Illustrate that!” And Ledoux rising to the challenge and creating this magnificent scarf.
This is what I think of when Ladi refers to Ledoux’s sense of humor. No collection of Hermes carres for a horse lover would be complete without an example of each of these two carres.
What an insightful, fun and playful way of seeing such familiar designs. Thank you, Dee for your new and fresh perspective.
Merci beaucoup, ma chère amie!