Serpentin Vert - Jorge Nesbitt

17 December 2021 - 29 January 2022

Rui Freire – Fine Art gallery is pleased to announce its latest limited edition production and publication project by artists, entitled Orfeu (Orpheus). Orfeu creates pieces that are at the juncture of artwork, design and object. This project aims to challenge artists to develop pieces that are different from those they usually produce, thus exploring other forms of creative expression, questioning individual practices, not limited to a specific visual language. Orfeu works in direct collaboration with artists and artisans and on pieces crafted with excellence.


For this first edition, Orfeu invited the artist Jorge Nesbitt, which created a diorama and illustrated book of a short story by Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, entitled Serpentin Vert.


Marie-Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville - Baroness d'Aulnoy - was born in Barneville-la-Bertran in 1651 and died in Paris, in 1705. She is considered one of the writers who gave birth to the literary genre of the Marvellous Tale. In these tales she instilled a subversive spirit through allegories and satire, unlike other authors like Charles Perrault who developed a more erudite style. Her literary work is often compared with that of Jean de La Fontaine for her masked criticisms of the French court and society , in the 17th century. When she referred to her works as contes de fée (fairy tales), she created the expression that is now used generically to define this literary genre.


The story begins when a Queen, who has recently given birth to twins, organizes a ceremony to introduce the new-borns. All fairies in the kingdom are invited to bless the children, with the exception of the cruel Magotine, sister of the famous Carabosse. Insulted for not being invited, she erupts in fury at such a lack of consideration. She then decides to curse the older of the two little princesses – Laideronnette - and condemns her to become the ugliest person in the world.


The years pass, Laideronette has grown up intelligent but lonely. Such is her misfortune, being the ugliest person in the world, that she asks to live in a tower and not be seen by anyone. On a brief and rare journey outside, he meets Serpentin Vert who starts to take an interest in her. Terrified of that hideous creature, she runs away, being accidentally dragged into the sea. Serpentin Vert emerges to help her, but she almost dies refusing his help...


Serpentin Vert is one of Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy's fairy tales that fascinates readers the most. Gustave Flaubert recalls having colored the illustration of this story when he was a child and Maurice Ravel dedicated one of Ma Mère L'Oye's five movements to "Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes". This story occupies a privileged place in critical studies of Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy in three main orientations: the psychoanalytic approach, the approach to the genre studies, and the parodic approach to the work.


The exhibition Serpentin Vert – Jorge Nesbitt vs Orfeu will be on display at the gallery between December 16, 2021 and January 29, 2022. This special edition will be accessible and it includes a case with the diorama, an engraving and the book by Marie-Catherine d'Aulnoy originally published in 1698, illustrated by artist Jorge Nesbitt. The nine engravings created especially for the book will also be presented on this occasion. This special edition is limited to 25 ex + 4 PA. Each diorama consists of cut-out engravings mounted on an oak structure. Each copy is delivered signed, numbered and accompanied by a certificate of authenticity, the delivery period after confirmation of purchase is one month.