Rimbaud by Jean-Michel Lengrand

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Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud by Jean-Michel Lengrand

Portrait of Arthur Rimbaud by Jean-Michel Lengrand
St Jean Carenage (St Barthelemy), 2002
41x31 cm, Oil on panel, signed "Jean Michel Lengrand" lower right.
Photograph All Rights Reserved.

A richly evocative portrait: The legendary brat-poet is depicted here from the famous photograph of Rimbaud aged seventeen, taken in Paris by Etienne Carjat about December 1871 (three months before Rimbaud stabbed Carjat in a postprandial fracas). Here the poet is transported to the foreground of his later milieu, an African landscape illuminated by a full moon top left. Distant clouds glow pink and yellow. Rimbaud's collar is burgundy velvet; his unruly hair is smoothed. "In the eyes", the artist says, "there is the romanti[ci]sm of a young poet, but also a part of night." In the middle distance, over the poet's left shoulder, la plus haute tour rises from the wetlands: It is a helix of manuscript-paper, "a tower of Babel", the artist says, "where the man wants to go untill [sic] the sky". Over the poet's right shoulder, leaves of manuscript-paper scatter heavenward, one by one becoming folded-paper birds flying off above and behind him, into infinity. Courtesy of Jay Dillon / Rare Books & Manuscripts