Special Collections & Archives Blog

Isadora Duncan: Vingt-Cinq Planches, by Jules Grandjouan

Monday, May 3, 2010 5:02 pm

“What is the first law for all art? What answer would a great sculptor or a great painter make? I think simply this: ‘Look at Nature, study Nature, understand Nature– and then try to express Nature.’ … The dance is an art like these others, and it also must find its beginning in this great first principle: study Nature.” — Isadora Duncan, The Art of the Dance.

Isadora Duncan was the toast of Paris in the early years of the 20th century. Reacting against the classical ballet tradition of the day, Duncan believed that “the dance should simply be. . . the natural gravitation of the will of the individual, which in the end is no more nor less than a human translation of the gravitation of the universe.” Many artists were inspired by her dance of nature, but Duncan herself was not always happy with their attempts to capture movement in two dimensions. The pastel studies by artist Jules Grandjouan, however, met with Duncan’s approval. In 1912 Duncan’s lover Paris Eugene Singer (heir to the sewing machine fortune) paid for the publication of an edition de luxe of Grandjouan’s drawings.

Isadora Duncan: Vingt-cinq Planches dessinees, gravee & imprimees par Grandjouan was privately printed in Paris in an edition of only 50 copies. The silkscreen reproductions of Grandjouan’s pastel drawings are printed on various colored papers.

The introduction to the volume is a facsimile manuscript in Duncan’s own hand.

Jules Grandjouan also designed the art nouveau style inlaid morocco binding.

“The artist without this first consciousness of proportion and line of the human form could have had no consciousness of the beauty surrounding him. . . All art– does it not come originally from the first human consciousness of the nobility of the lines of the human body?” — Isadora Duncan, “The Dancer and Nature”

“All the conscious art of mankind has grown out of the discovery of the natural beauty of the human body. Men tried to reproduce it in sand or on a wall, and painting thus was born. From our understanding of the harmonies and proportions of the members of the body sprang architecture. From the wish to glorify the body sculpture was created.”– Isadora Duncan, “Movement is Life”

This volume was purchased by Special Collections in 1994. It is part of a small but important Isadora Duncan collection at Wake Forest. Some other works in the collection include:

Clara, J., Denis, G. A., & Bourdelle, E. A. (1928). Isadora Duncan.: . [Paris?]: Editions Rieder. GV1785 D8 C5 1928

Duncan, I. (1915). Dionysion: . s.l.: Committee for the Furtherance of Isadora Duncan’s Work in America GV1785 D8 D56

Duncan, I. (1927). My life: . New York: Boni and Liveright. GV1785 D8 1927m

Duncan, I., Cheney, S., Duncan, R., Duncan, M., Roberts, M. F., O’Sheel, S., Eastman, M., Le Gallienne, E., Jones, R. E., Bakst, L., Bourdelle, E. A., Clara, J., Denis, M., Grandjouan, J., Kaulbach, A. v., Perrine, V. D., Rodin, A., Dunoyer de Segonzac, A., Walkowitz, A., Genthe, A., & Steichen, E. (1928). The art of the dance: . New York: Theatre Arts, Inc. GV1783 D78 1928

Duncan, I., Dallies., Divoire, F., Meunier, M., Delaquys, G., Bourdelle, E. A., Clara, J., & Grandjouan, J. (1927). Ecrits sur la danse: . Paris: Editions du Grenier. GV1600 D85 1927

Genthe, A., & Plimpton Press. (1929). Isadora Duncan : twenty-four studies: . New York ; London: Mitchell Kennerley. GV1785 D8 G4

Jou, L., & T’Serstevens, A. 1. (1925). A? la danseuse: . [Paris]: Les E?ditions Lapina. GV1596 J68 1925

Lafitte, J. P., & Faure, E. (1910). Les danses d’Isadora Duncan: . Paris: Mercure de France GV1785 .D8 L24 1910

Lecomte, V., & Duncan, R. (1952). The dance of Isadora Duncan: pencil studies from life made during recitals in the theatres of Paris from 1903 to 1927. [1st ed.] Paris: Raymond Duncan. GV1785 D8 L4 1952

Sechan, L. (1930). La danse grecque antique: . Paris: E. de Boccard. GV1611 S4 1930

Stokes, S. (1928). Isadora Duncan: an intimate portrait: . London ; New York: Brentano’s ltd. GV1785 D8 1928i


  1. So very good to see this article on Duncan and this particular work in Rare! The professor of dance in the early 90’s at WFU was instrumental in this purchase for Rare.

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