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Theatres of Melancholy

The Neo-Romantics in Paris and Beyond

Patrick Mauriès


The first substantial book on the Neo-Romantics, a cosmopolitan group working in 1920s Paris who turned against modernist abstraction in favour of a new form of figurative painting

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In 1926, the Galerie Druet in Paris made waves presenting a group of young painters who had spurned modernist abstraction and returned to a form of figurative painting. For most of them this was the first time they had exhibited, but their impact was considerable. Art critic Waldemar George baptized them the ‘Neo-Romantics’ or the ‘Neo-Humanists’. They were influenced by Picasso, in particular his Blue and Rose periods, but went beyond him to forge new ways of painting. These were artists who liked to play with forgotten references and obsolete visual devices such as trompe l’oeil.

Theatres of Melancholy is the first book in many years on the Neo-Romantics. The works of Christian Bérard, Pavel Tchelitchew, and Eugene and Leonid Berman – which also included theatre, opera and ballet design – attracted the admiration of Gertrude Stein, George Balanchine, Edith Sitwell and Christian Dior, among others. Patrick Mauriès’s richly illustrated, engaging book sheds light on the group’s brooding and often nostalgic work, which will be seen as a revelation by a new audience today.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 28.0 x 23.0 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Publication date: 31 March 2022

ISBN: 9780500094075

Contents List

Author’s note

First act: 1926

1. Exiles
2. Leonid’s travels

Second act: Against the tide

3. Gertrude Stein’s prevarications
4. Ten portraits
5. The ‘Bérard era’
6. Tchelitchew: weightiness and grace
7. Transparent bodies
8. Eugene Berman: dreaming of architecture
9. A Paper Ball
10. Medusa

Third act: Figures of style

11. Two minor arcana
12. The strange case of Waldemar-George
13. The invention of Neo-Romanticism
14. Neo-Humanism is a Neo-Mannerism
15. Fantasy landscapes
16. The theory of the saltimbanque

Fourth act: Convergence lines

17. The lightness of being
18. The English scene
19. Kit Wood, the outsider
20. The art of nuance

About the Author

Patrick Mauriès is a writer and publisher of many notable titles on fashion and design, including Jewelry by Chanel (2012), A Cabinet of Rarities (2012), Maison Lesage (2020), The World According to Karl (2013) and Fashion Quotes: Stylish Wit and Catwalk Wisdom (2016), all published by Thames & Hudson.