In March each year, Paris brings together collectors of drawings for a series of important events: Drawing Now at the Carreau du Temple, which attracts the elite of the contemporary drawing world; DDessin at the Atelier Richelieu, which shows up-and-coming artists; and above all the Salon du Dessin, which hosts some forty selected galleries in the Palais Brongniart.

Since the early 1990s, the Salon du Dessin has become the leading event for international drawing collectors. It is a trip through time, where you might find inks by Dubuffet, preparatory drawings by Delacroix, or a previously unseen work by Ingres. This year, for the first time visitors will discover contemporary Chinese artists (presented by the Galerie Hadrien de Montferrand) and an exhibition of forty acquisitions by the association Le Cabinet des amateurs de dessins of the École des Beaux-Arts.

On the eve of this Parisian event, its president Louis de Bayser discussed with us the outlines of this rendez-vous for drawing enthusiasts, which is growing in quality each year.

NEWS OF THE ART WORLD – For its 26th year, the Salon du Dessin has introduced a gallery of contemporary Chinese drawings for the first time. Is this part of a move to diversify?

Louis de Bayser – The presence of the Galerie Hadrien de Montferrand, which will present the Chinese artists, indeed represents an opening up to a new market and new artists. Until this year, the galleries at the salon showed above all Western artists. We wanted to celebrate the strong appreciation of drawing that has always existed in China.

We are always willing to listen to suggestions during the selection of the galleries. The only imperative is that the level of quality to be maintained must equal that of the previous year. It has always been important to us to welcome diversity in terms of period and subject.

The presence of contemporary drawing seems to be on the rise at the Salon.

We have presented modern and contemporary drawings since the first edition of the Salon. The difference today is that dealers in ancient and traditional drawings also deal with more recent artists. Now, modern and contemporary drawings can be found on a large number of stands.

The Salon du Dessin brings attention to a new generation of dealers. Is drawing become more attractive?

These last 25-30 years, drawings have won themselves the status of works of art in their own right and a market has grown up around the medium. We have seen new dealers arrive and specialized sales held.

In the past, drawing tended to be bracketed with ancient and modern painting, but today the market stands on its own feet. Thus now there are dealers who could operate exclusively in this field. Representatives of this new breed include Mathieu Noeuze and Nathalie Motte, who are with us in this year’s Salon.

Would you say that drawing is less “segmented” and that collectors are more open to very different periods?

Yes, collectors have little difficulty in passing from a drawing from the 16th century to one from the 20th. They happily hang a portrait by Degas alongside a Renaissance work. The market has a certain facility to make such combinations possible.

Salon du dessin

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), Saint François d’Assise Crayon noir sur papier beige © Galerie de Bayser

It is often said that there is less speculation in the drawing market. Do you agree with that?

Yes. We sell drawings to collectors who keep them. They have little inclination to resell them later for profit. They buy them because they love them. Of course, some prices increase but this is not because new collectors are arriving who buy with the purpose of selling later.

Are collectors of drawings particularly passionate about it?

It isn’t the easiest medium to take up but the people who succeed in creating a collection in this field are indeed passionate. Many are collectors purely of drawings and do not buy paintings. Once they begin, they rarely give it up. One of the advantages is that they can continue to buy without the need for a great deal of space, there is no need for a hangar!

Much has been said about discoveries of drawings this year. You are bringing a very rare drawing by Ingres, there was the drawing by Leonardo da Vinci found at Tajan’s…. Are such factors important for gallerists and collectors?

Discovery is what thrills drawing-lovers the most! The discovery of the work by Leonardo is the kind of thing we dream about, it is always present in the back of our mind! We live for such things: finding drawings that are unknown, or unpublished, or known and that have disappeared, or of which we know the final composition but not the preparatory sketch…that’s the kind of event that drives us!

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