Théophile Gautier Collection
To this day, the Balzac House holds the most dymanic collections consecrated to Théophile Gautier. The figure of Gautier has been present in the graphic art collection since the creation of the musem's collections, with a portrait by Célestin Nanteuil and three caricatures signed Benjamin Roubaud, Plattier, and Bertall, as well as a medallion in plaster done by David d'Angers. It also includes an etching of Géniole inspired by the Gautier's drawing of Balzac and Musset.
In 1997, a specific collection was created upon the acquisition of ten works offered in memory of Ivan Devries, a descendant of the writer. Five are by Gautier, who is known to have wished at first to become a painter: a drawing inspired by Florian's pastoral landscape Estelle et Nemorin, which depicts Estelle and dates from 1818; two female portraits painted in oil in 1829; and one aquarelle entitled La terrasse du jardin à Saint Jean (The Saint Jean garden terrace), done between 1864 and 1870. A signed manuscript with a drawing completes this ensemble. All of the works are inscribed in the inventory that was established in 1879 by Emile Bergerat, Gautier's son-in-law. Five other works recall the writer's personal circle: two portraits of Gautier, one in pastel by Riesener dated 1850; the second, drawn in pen by Ernest Liphart dated 1879: an anonymous painting of Gautier's countryside, Ernesta Grisi; a portrait of Estelle, Gautier's daughter, drawn by Hébert; and Gautier's room at Neuilly-sur-Seine painted by Emile Pinchart.
The Balzac House thereafter developed this collection, thanks to gifts from the Théophile Gautier Society, with a pencil drawing signed Gautier that shows the Carlotta Grisi’s profile, his sister-in-law and a celebrated dancer for whom he wrote the booklet for the ballet Giselle; and two photographs of Théophile Gautier surrounded by his family (1999). Coming from the Society of Friends of Balzac and from the Balzac House, a manuscript of preparatory notes for The Romance of the Mummy decorated with a drawing (1999); and from Larousse, the corrected proofs of the article on the Pantheon’s décor by Paul Chenavard (1999). An anonymous gift in honor of Michel Delporte in 2004 comprised many works by Gautier and studies of the artist. Madeleine and Franics Ambrière made the gift of a photograph of Gautier by Nadar, done in Paris around 1856, in 2008. In 2010, in preparation for the bicentennial of the writer’s birth, Madame Anik Lesure offered a travel bag in leather bought by Gautier in Toledo, a petit-déjeuner in silver offered by the tenor Pasquale Brignoli, and a porcelain inkpot. A plaster model of the bust of Gautier done by Dantan in 1839 enters the collections in 2011 thanks to a gift from Muriel Devriès-Menesson.
Purchases in auction halls or in bookstores regularly fill out this collection. Among the major acquisitions one finds manuscripts, deluxe editions, mock costumes, posters, and furniture.
The Balzac House collects editions of Gautier's works and conserves remarkable illustrated editions (see Gautier's editions in the library's heritage collection).
The Balzac House's Théophile Gautier collection is regularly enriched by more modest works: film reviews, drawn or photographed portraits of Gautier, paperback editions, comic books, and even sheet music.