Works on Paper

Palézieux (1919-2012)

from 21 September to 15 December 2019

Open every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm


One hundred years after the birth of the Swiss artist Gérard de Palézieux, the Fondation Custodia is paying homage to him with this show focusing on his graphic work. The exhibition contains more than one hundred works on paper in the techniques favoured by Palézieux: prints, drawings, wash drawings and watercolours, and presents an opportunity to take stock of the coherence of his work as he dealt with his favourite subjects: landscape, portraits and still-lifes.

Born in 1919 in Vevey, Switzerland, Gérard de Palézieux had the chance to study in Florence between 1939 and 1943. His training took place at the fountainhead of the Italian Renaissance and he acquired a sound technical grounding. On his return to Switzerland he settled near Sierre in the Valais, in a small house amongst the vines where he was to live for the rest of his life. In 1947 he began taking a keen interest in etching, relentlessly exploring its possibilities – later, he was to build a collection of the best examples from the past.

Gérard de Palézieux, Raspille Valley, 1992
Copper plate soft-ground etching and aquatint, on Chine collé on Arches wove paper, 160 × 300 mm
Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, Vevey

Palézieux’s drawings, prints and watercolours are linked to the work of the artists of the past. He even used antique paper to lend his work a certain age. He understood how Rembrandt, Castiglione, Canaletto or Tiepolo used etching to achieve very specific effects. He also met and became friends with Giorgio Morandi, whom he admired for his way of life and for his art. In fact, he said that he had trouble freeing himself from Morandi’s graphic vocabulary. However, soft-ground etching, aquatint and monotype led him off in another direction.

Gérard de Palézieux, Two Figs
Watercolour on beige laid paper, 105 × 156 mm
Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, Vevey

At the beginning of the 1960s, following travels in Morocco and Provence, he took up watercolour painting and developed his skill during repeated visits to Venice. The spontaneity offered by the technique gave a new turn to his art. ‘Instinctive’, ‘intuitive’, as he described himself, Palézieux stayed true to his emotions when he approached landscape painting which, along with still-life, was to remain his main subject. As he observed the relentless degradation of the places he loved, and faced an unending succession of different aesthetic styles, the artist chose to describe, without nostalgia, the essential elements of his time as they related to the constituent elements of all time.

Gérard de Palézieux, Riva degli Schiavoni, for Carnet de Venise (Venice Notebook), 1975
Watercolour on wove paper, 136 × 181 mm
Fondation William Cuendet & Atelier de Saint-Prex, Vevey

Florian Rodari, curator of the Fondation William Cuendet, writes about Palézieux: He was painstakingly attentive to technique, yet never constrained by it. Bearing this in mind, we should chart the progress made by the printmaker from his earliest etchings, which owed a great deal to the example of Giorgio Morandi, to his final experiments with aquatint. And we should admire his varied use of the crayon, from the careful work with the pointed tip to the broad strokes of his lithographic crayon which make his skilful compositions on antique or specially prepared papers sing with light. Finally, in the watercolours, the climax of his work on paper, Palézieux captures each moment with overwhelming accuracy. The villages and landscapes of the Valais, wrapped in snow and meaningful silence, Venice and the blue mist of the lagoon, changing skies and light – the painter seems to absent himself in the manner of the artists of the Far East, leaving space to speak for itself.

Gérard de Palézieux, Still Life with Coffee Pot and Fruit Bowl, 1981
Lithographic crayon on a background of beige wash on wove paper, 285 × 345 mm
Musée Jenisch, Vevey, Fondation de la Société des Beaux-Arts de Vevey

A few years before the death of the artist, close contact with him was made by Peter Schatborn, honorary director of the Rijksprentenkabinet in Amsterdam and Ger Luijten, director of the Fondation Custodia, with the intention of establishing a representative collection of his prints in Paris. The current exhibition endorses this promise of a gift, the donated group having now been supplemented by the purchase of a number of drawings and watercolours.


Palézieux. Œuvres sur papier
Edited by Florian Rodari and Ger Luijten
5 Continents Editions, Milan, 2019
Four volumes, 21 × 25 cm (three volumes of images, one of text), casebound
ISBN: 978 88 7439 907 9
49,00 €

To order this book, please fill out the form below. You will receive an invoice by e-mail, including package and postage fees. Payments can be made by bank transfer.

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Practical Information


Fondation Custodia / Collection Frits Lugt
121, rue de Lille - 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 47 05 75 19

Access by public transport

Metro: Assemblée Nationale (line 12) or Invalides (lines 8 and 13)
RER C: Invalides or Musée d’Orsay
Bus: lines 63, 73, 83, 84, 94, Assemblée Nationale
Vélib’: station opposite (n° 7009)

Opening hours

Every day except Monday, from 12 to 6 pm

Admission charges

Admission charges 10 € (full) / 7 € (reduced)
The reduced rate is available to seniors (over 60), unemployed people, groups of at least 10 people

Free admission: students, press card, ICOM card, disabled person’s card

No online reservations

The exhibition Palézieux (1919-2012). Works on Paper is organised in collaboration with the Musée Jenisch Vevey (Switzerland), where it is presented from 7 February to 26 July 2020.