Våpenbrevet (nr. 77,33)
Norsk Heraldisk Forening
Laurent GRANIER, French heraldist
by Kaare Seeberg Sidselrud
I was born in 1966 in Grenoble, in the south east of France. I made all my studies in the capital of the French Alps : a Master both in History and Modern French Literature.
I suppose that my passion for heraldry began with the frequentation of castles and churches in the former provinces of Dauphiné and Savoy during my childhood. Recently my father found some of my childhood drawings in the archives of my grandparents and I was surprised to find castles, (correct) shields of arms and banners…
After only one year of teaching after my studies I decided to devote my life to heraldic art, my old passion in 1995 and to follow my motto inspired from Estienne de la Boëtie : “ARDENS FLAMMA ME DVCIT” (an ardent fire guide me).
The heraldry today in France :
Heraldic art in France has been in a sad situation for many decades. It is important to underline that the French Revolution of 1789, out of being one of the most cruel civil wars ever, was accompanied by a radically cultural tabula rasa with a massive destruction of books, buildings and a lot of treasures of our culture. Heraldry was pointed out as the prominent evil mark of the enslaved condition of the people during the monarchy era. In fact French people of every social standing were always free to use Coat-of-Arms as they wanted. Schools took over this misunderstanding during all the 19th and also the 20th centuries. The result is a great number of misunderstandings and ignorance in this field of our national culture. Not so long as ten years ago a majority of French people believed heraldry was only reserved for the gentry… In my opinion, the high level work of scientific popularization made by Michel Pastoureau in the French medias is responsible for an awakening of the interest of heraldry in French people.
Unfortunately, numbers of French people have a strange opinion concerning heraldic art because most of them have only seen the 19th century heraldry in the books available on the market and in the libraries that is the worst of all our artistic history ! Number of fake artists and Parisian merchants of signet rings are alas relaying this low quality heraldry. Auspiciously, some courageous publishers made serious work with the issue of several beautiful medieval armorials.
On the other hand, the French heraldic studies are flourishing following “the school” of Michel Pastoureau and many young and brilliant historians who decided to devote their researches to different aspects of heraldry. We have also many great searchers of international level such as Michel Pastoureau, Michel Popoff, Emmanuel de Boos, Hélène Loyau… and also now, a brilliant new generation that would be sooner talk about.
My work :
French medieval and 16th century heraldry and its richness of shapes, traditions and rules from a province to another always fascinated me. In my graphic work, I am strongly influenced by all these traditions and I am willing to make it live again when I work for a French client even I am a fervent admirator of the Germanic heraldic tradition from
the anonymous artists of the 16th century to Otto Hupp. I must say that I am also impressed by the still living and so characteristic Nordic graphical tradition. In fact, I must admit each heraldic tradition is interesting if it is an authentic one. In my opinion, heraldry of new countries as Canada, New Zealand or South Africa with mixed origins people is particularly fascinating.
I am a zealous propagandist of crests that were sadly wiped out by the fashion of crowns in France in the end of the 17th century. Most of my creations of arms for French citizens have crests and I often create them to personalize historical Coat-of-Arms.
Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure for me to work for a foreigner and I am willing to respect his own national heraldic culture. I always consider heraldry as a fascinating window widely open on the rich cultural diversity in Europe and also in the world.
I am also working on bookplates and I am fond of it but I am not satisfied with black & white drawing. I would like to propose in the near future full colour bookplates to my clients.
In fact, the great intellectual satisfaction in my work is to create arms.
I do all my drawings hand made and I make the assemblage on computer. It is an excellent tool to produce precise sketches and to show to my clients a clear approach of the final rendition. After that, I report the final sketch on my paper (a high quality paper made in Lorraine since 16th century) and I make corrections and add details. After that, I start with colour ; my technique is a mix of watercolour (transparent pigment) and gouache (opaque pigments).
Since 2006 I have the honour to work for the Vlaamse Heraldische Raad (The Flemish Heraldic Authority) and it is very new for me to work as a humble heraldic painter.
In complement to my main work as an artist, I perform heraldic research on historical objects mainly to identify them. Sometime I help archaeologists on heraldic frescoes, which are my favourite heraldic artifacts. I am preparing my first scientific publication with the study of a beautiful and still universal armorial of the second part of the15th century.
The web “revolution” :
When in 2001, a friend made me the kind offer to create my website I was quite doubtful about the utility of that media… I must say I have changed my mind in a few years when I see the evolution of frequentation figures. My website is now seen all around the world by approximately more than two thousands visitors a week and all my clients knows me now by it and it gives me the great opportunity to work for people of other cultures. I consider it as a wonderful tool, a worldwide accessible gallery. The web is also the occasion to see the works of my friends and colleagues and of course a fantastic source of documentation in peculiar concerning historical iconography. The only problem with the web is the wide spreading of the so-called “bucket” shops and false heraldists in France. It is really amazing to see all these persons who are neither artists nor historians, calling themselves heraldists…
Some publication of my works :
Publication of about fifteen of my designs in the book Heraldiek, Wapens kennenen en herkennen of Honoré Rottier & Marc Van de Cruys, Louvain (Belgium).
Publication of all my bookplates in Contemporary international ex-libris artists of Artur Mário da Mota Miranda, Braga, Portugal 2003.
Publication of some of my designs in an article about my work in the review « The New Zealand Armorist », NZ branch of The Heraldry Society, issue # 91, Winter 2004.
Illustration by eighteen black & white designs of the article of the French historian and heraldist, Nicolas Vernot « Les allusions politiques dans les armoiries comtoises enregistrées dans l’armorial général de 1696 » (“political allusions in the Franche-Comtée arms registered in the 1696 armorial”) in the heraldic Swiss review Archives Héraldiques Suisses 2001, tome II.
Cover and cover back of the review “Revue lorraine populaire”, issue of February 2002.
Publication of my creation of the armorial bearings of the Cardinal Billé, Archbishop of Lyon in the book : Trésor inconnus du Vatican (Unknow treasures of the Vatican) de Bernard Berthod & Pierre Blanchard, Paris 2001.
Article about my work written by Edouard Secretan President of the Société Française d’Héraldique et de Sigillographie « Vers un nouveau style héraldique français » (“Towards a new French heraldic style”), in the prestigious magazine « La Demeure Historique » (magazine of the French owners of historical castles & houses), July 1998.
Laurent Granier, Heraldist, 3, rue Tavernier 69001 Lyon (France),