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Finding aid for the Victor Champier papers, 1834-1929 (bulk 1872-1908)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Victor Champier papers
    Date (inclusive): 1834-1929 (bulk 1872-1908)
    Number: 940020
    Creator/Collector: Champier, Victor, b. 1851
    Physical Description: 5.0 linear feet (12 boxes)
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    Abstract: French art historian and critic (1851-1929). Papers comprise manuscripts, typescripts, newspaper and journal clippings, autograph letters, photographs, and ephemera documenting efforts to promote the decorative arts in France. The bulk of the material concerns international expositions, the founding and growth of the Musée des Arts décoratifs, and Champier's role as director of La revue des arts décoratifs.
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    Language: Collection material is in French

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Victor Champier was a major figure in the late 19th and early 20th century art world, who promoted the decorative arts in his roles as editor, art critic, art historian, and a director of a school. Champier was born in Fleurs in 1851, and left for Paris to study law in the 1860s. In 1868 he became Gustave Vapereau's secretary and he collaborated with Vapereau on several works, most importantly La Dictionnaire des Littératures. He seems to have written at least two novels during the 1860s, and during the 1870s Champier collaborated with Paul Dalloz and his brother-in-law Jean Morel on the literary journal, La revue de France. However, he soon devoted his energies to writing about art rather than literature, especially after serving briefly during the Prussian War. From 1871 to 1875 he was a major contributor of art criticism for La Dictionnaire Larousse, and in 1875 he assumed the duty of editor-in-chief for L'Art and Musée universelle concurrently. From 1879 to 1887, Champier held the position of art critic for the Le Moniteur universel, and it is during his tenure here that he became an active promoter of the "minor" arts. During this period, Champier also researched, wrote, and edited L'Année artistique, an up-to-date chronicle of academies, museums, and organizations devoted to the decorative arts in Europe and America. L'Année artistique was published yearly from 1878 to 1882.
    Champier played a prominent role in the foundation of a national museum dedicated to the decorative arts. From 1878 onwards Champier served as the secretary of the Société du Musée des Arts and he was involved in the creation of the Union Centrale des Arts décoratifs, which developed from the 1881 merger of the Société and the Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts appliqués à l'Industrie. The Union Centrale des Arts décoratifs' mandate was to create a national museum of decorative arts to protect France's heritage and to ensure the future of art industries. The founders intended to exhibit both retrospective and contemporary decorative arts, establish a library, and support contests and educational opportunities for young artists. The founders of the Musée des Arts décoratifs modeled their creation on London's Kensington Museum, now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum. By 1878 the museum was situated in the Palais d'Industrie. In 1905 the Musée des Arts décoratifs opened in its permanent location in the Pavillion de Marsan, adjacent to the Louvre. Several major supporters of the museum, such as Henry Havard, Georges Berger, and Marius Vachon, were also Champier's correspondents. Due to a lack of government support the Museum was primarily funded privately and to this day it holds a distinction as one of the few Parisian museums administered and supported by a private corporation, the Union Centrale.
    Perhaps Champier's most influential position was one which he created for himself. In 1879 Champier founded and assumed the directorship of La revue des Arts décoratifs, the official voice of the Union Centrale. La revue des Arts décoratifs played an important role in promotion of the decorative artist, and it published art historical articles as well as critiques of contemporary art.
    Champier was also a key figure in planning and determining policy of the Expositions Universelles of 1889 and 1900. For these two expositions, Champier served as rapporteur on the decorative and industrial arts for the French State. Champier also played an integral role in admitting the decorative arts into the yearly salons and giving them prominent positions in world expositions. Later he was selected by the French government to go on missions to Chicago, Turin, and Tunis to study the instruction of decorative arts in foreign countries and their applications to industry. His findings were published in reports such as L'art et l'industrie aux Etats-Unis d'Amerique, l'enseignement (August-November 1893).
    Champier also supported the role of education in reviving the decorative arts. In 1902 he was called to direct the school of industrial arts in Roubaix. In 1908 he was the general favorite to assume the position of Director of the Manufacture de Sèvres, but the government appointed Emile Bourgeois in his stead. Champier was made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1900 and he died in Roubaix in 1929.
    Of the many volumes written by Champier, the primary publications are: L'Année artistique (1878-1882), Les industries d'art à l'exposition de 1889 (and for the 1900, 1889-1902 expositions), Le Palais-Royal d'après des documents inédits 1629-1900 (1900), L'art dans les Flandres françaises aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (1911), and Les anciens almanachs illustrés (1886). Champier collaborated on the journals la Revue de France and Le Moniteur universel, and the publications la Dictionnaire des antiquités grecques et romaines and la Dictionnaire d'industrie.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Victor Champier papers, 1834-1929, bulk 1872-1929, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 940020

    Acquisition Information

    The papers were in the possession of André Champier (Champier's heir), then passed to the market by his widow. The Getty acquired the collection in 1994.

    Processing History

    This archive was processed and described by several people, including Sjoerd Meihuizen, during Spring, 1996. Hillary Brown completed processing in June, 1996.
    Some manuscripts and papers by Emile Gallé, notably manuscript articles by Gallé on the 1900 Exposition, were moved from this archive to Special collections accn. no. 860898.
    The Jean Morel clippings in Box 4, folder 7 were treated for mold and returned 1995 Feb 23.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This collection documents roughly fifty years in the public life of Victor Champier, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1872 to 1908. The manuscripts, publications and extensive collection of letters addressed to Champier address the debates surrounding the establishment of a museum of decorative arts in Paris, the questions of educating future artisans, and the role of international expositions. Champier's papers actively illustrate the collaboration between artists, manufacturers, patrons, and government officials to revitalize and promote French decorative arts.
    Media in the collection include manuscripts, typescripts, newspaper and journal clippings, autograph letters, photographs and ephemera.
    The papers presumably were arranged by Champier, and his titles for the files have been retained. The letters are arranged alphabetically by correspondent and chronologically within each name grouping. Champier identified his correspondents by their roles.
    Five boxes of published and unpublished manuscripts, journal issues, press clippings, and ephemeral material relate to the decorative arts, art and industry, and expositions. This material presumably was organized by Champier himself.
    Particularly noteworthy are the draft manuscripts and research notes for Champier's publications on goldsmithing, fashion and jewelry, glass and textile design. The majority of the manuscripts are by Champier, but there are also pamphlets and articles by Gustave-Roger Sandoz, Henri Bouilhet, Germain Bapst, Lucien Falize, and Paul Christofle. Material related to the publication of L'Année artistique includes letters from curators of provincial museums and press clippings of book reviews. Reports, manuscripts, and a copy of L'Art et l'Industrie aux Etats-Unis, 1893, detail Champier's missions to Chicago in 1893-1894, to Turin in 1902, and to Tunisia in 1908. Material related to expositions includes reports from the 1855, 1867, 1878 expositions and a copy of Les Industries d'art à l'Exposition Universelle de 1900, and 1902. From 1893-1894 Champier held conferences in Roubaix, which are documented through letters, press clippings, and notes. Box 5 contains Champier's biographical notes on artists, possibly in preparation for a dictionary of artists. There is a small amount of personal material in the form of photographs of family members, and memorabilia from his friend Jean-Joseph Weerts.
    Approximately 3,800 original letters addressed to Victor Champier from over 800 correspondents, many with annotations by Champier and most arranged by Champier himself. In an note dated 1901, Champier states that he felt these letters were important not only because they were written by friends, but also because of the prominent roles many of the correspondents played in nineteenth-century literary and artistic life.
    The letters are largely professional in nature. Many of them concern the publication of La revue des Arts décoratifs, and correspondents discuss articles for submission, thank Champier for favorable reviews, provide biographical information, and authorize photographic reproductions of work for publication. Other letters offer corrections for items appearing in L'Année artistique, discuss expositions and conferences organized by Champier, and extend invitations for atelier visits and social engagements. Several letters contain manuscript drafts of articles. A few of the letters are addressed to Champier's brother-in-law Jean Morel, editor of La Revue Française from 1855-1859, or to Paul Dalloz, director of Le Moniteur Universel and collaborator with Champier from 1884-1887.
    Correspondents include artists, manufacturers, collectors, literary figures, museum administrators, and members and directors of Beaux-Arts and the Union Centrale des Arts décoratifs. There are significant number of letters from the goldsmiths and writers Germain Bapst, Henri Bouilhet and Lucien Falize, the director of Beaux-Arts Léopold Crost, the art historian and editor Louis de Fourcaud, the artists Emile Gallé and Jean-Joseph Weerts, the art critics Antony Valabrègue and Roger Marx, and the directors of the Gobelins Gustave Geffroy and Edouard Gerspach. Well-known correspondents include Jules Dalou, Felix Bracquemond, Gérôme, Lalique, Lucien Magne, Puvis de Chavannes, Raffaëlli, and Rodin, the manufacturers Jules Henrivaux and Louis d'Emile Müller, the art dealers Samuel Bing and Paul Eudel, the art historian and engraver Henri Focillon, the author Alphonse Karr, the Inspecteurs de l'Enseignement du Dessin Alfred de Champeaux and Paul Steck, the curator of the Musée des Arts décoratifs Paul Gasnault, and the director of the Ecole des Arts décoratifs Jacques Louvrier de Lajolais.

    Arrangement note

    The papers are arranged in two series: Series I. Manuscripts and printed material, 1834-1908; Series II. Letters received, 1848-1929

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Champier, Victor, b. 1851
    Dalloz, Paul, 1829-1887
    Weerts, Jean-Joseph, 1846-1927

    Subjects - Corporate Bodies

    Exposition universelle de 1889 (Paris, France)
    Exposition universelle internationale de 1900 (Paris, France)
    Musée des arts décoratifs (France)
    Union centrale des arts décoratifs (Paris, France)

    Subjects - Topics

    Decorative arts
    Decorative arts--France
    Decorative arts--France--Exhibitions
    Decorative arts--France--History
    Jewelry--France--History--19th century
    Textile design
    Textile design--France
    Textile design--France--History

    Subjects - Titles

    L'Année artistique Moniteur Universel Revue des arts décoratifs


    Bapst, Germain, 1853-1921
    Bouilhet, Henri
    Champeaux, Alfred de, 1833-1903
    Christofle, Paul
    Crost, Léopold
    Dalloz, Paul, 1829-1887
    Eudel, Paul, 1837-1911
    Falize, L. (Lucien), 1842-1897
    Fourcaud, L. de (Louis), 1851-1914
    Gallé, Emile, 1846-1904
    Gasnault, Paul
    Geffroy, Gustave, 1855-1926
    Gerspach, E. (Edouard), 1833-1906
    Grand-Carteret, John, 1850-1927
    Henrivaux, Jules, b. 1850
    Karr, Alphonse, 1808-1890
    Louvrier de Lajolais, Jacques
    Magne, Lucien, 1849-1916
    Marx, Roger, 1859-1913
    Müller, Louis d'Emile
    Pierron, Sander, b. 1872
    Régamey, Félix, 1844-1907
    Sandoz, G. Roger (Gustav Roger)
    Sardou, Victorien, 1831-1908
    Valabrègue, Antony, 1844-1900
    Weerts, Jean-Joseph, 1846-1927