Present Whereabouts Unknown.
DURAND-RUEL GALLERIES, 389, Fifth Avenue, New York, March 1 – 15, 1897.
New York Times, March 2, 1897.
Plancon was born in Fumay in the Ardennes département of France, near the Belgian border, on the 12 June 1851. “Pol” is a pet form of Paul. He was a distinguished French operatic bass singer who studied with Duprez and Sbriglia in Paris, made his debut in Lyons in 1877, and later worked in Paris, London and New York. He was renowned for his exquisite legato singing as well as for his crisp diction, limpid tone, precise intonation, and virtuosic mastery of ornaments and fioriture. While not huge, his voice was of penetrating character, making a consistently positive impression in such large theatres as the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. He was renowned for his interpretation of Mephistopheles in Charles Gounod’s Faust. Upon his return to Paris at the age of 57, he retired from the stage while still in excellent voice, although his top notes had begun to weaken. He occupied himself by giving lessons to select pupils. He died on 11 August 1914.
The New York Times, March 2, 1897 wrote of the picture that it ‘…is a good likeness and fresh in color.’ The following undated letter gives an indication of the commission (artist’s papers):
‘Dear Mr Ury,
I am delighted with the portrait. I feared I had not said enough in its praise, the little faults I spoke of were trifles. I wrote Plancon today. I told him I liked the picture very much, & that it was his fault entirely that it was not quite perfect, that I should go with him for the last sitting, and see that his eyes had the usual amount of the devil in them. I really think it would be a good plan, he will be on good behavior then, & will look his prettiest. I can always make him laugh & put him in good humor, he will not have that look of angelic sadness in his eyes if I am there. I would tell him how foolish he looked.
Cordially yours, Emma M. Raymond.’
Emma Marcy Raymond (1856-1913) was a New York composer of operetta (Doretta was produced in 1889), songs and piano music. She was the daughter of Dr Erastus Egerton Marcy of New York a Homeopathic doctor. After she died left $300,000 to a homeopathic hospital, which was apparently challenged in the probate courts. Her pictures were sold at auction on 9 November 1916 (American Art Catalogue ref 3457). It is not known presently if Plancon’s portrait was among them.