Thursday, 2 June 2016


Camille Corot (aka Jean Baptiste Camille Corot) (1796–1875)
“Souvenir de Sologne”, 1873

Lithograph on fine wove paper, signed by the artist in the plate
Size: (sheet) 15.9 x 25.5 cm, (image borderline) 13.6 x 23.3 cm

Michel Melot (1978) in “Graphic Art of the Pre-Impressionists” advises that this print was published in an edition of one hundred impressions “in black on various papers: yellow, gray, or white China appliqué or Manila volant” (p. 262). Melot also proposes that if “this print has become rare today it is not because, as Robaut thought, only a small number were printed but rather because it was not taken up by the collectors of the time” (ibid).

Delteil 34; Melot 34

The British Museum offers the following description of this print: “Flat landscape with trees to left, horse and figure(?) in pond to right. 1873 Lithograph, on cream chine collé” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1347581&partId=1&searchText=Corot&page=2) (Note that unlike the British Museum’s copy, this impression is not printed on cream chine collé.)
Condition: superb impression in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, stains or foxing). There is sight wrinkling at the left edge and there are slight lines of thinness that can only be seen on very close inspection.


I am selling this extremely rare original lithograph by Corot in near pristine condition for AU$900 (currently US$651.11/EUR583.96/GBP451.97 at the time of posting this print) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this print by one the most famous artist of the Barbizon School, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


There is mystery surrounding this print. Although it is an original lithograph by Corot, the actual process used was not the conventional one where an image was drawn on stone and printed. Michel Melot (1978) in “Graphic Art of the Pre-Impressionists” proposes that the drawn image was “probably transferred by a mechanical process” (p. 262). Melot then points out the dilemma in describing the process:

“Robaut prudently catalogued this piece, without reproducing it, as a ‘glass plate transferred to stone.’ Nor is there more reason to think, as Delteil did, that the drawing was done on lithographic transfer paper and should therefore be included among the autolithographs.” (ibid)

The concern about unconventional lithographic processes was of high importance to collectors at the time. This was particularly true regarding the process of transfer lithographs. In fact, the legendary artist, Walter Sickert, was so incensed by Joseph Pennell and McNeill Whister’s promotion of it that Sickert wrote the following stern message in “Saturday Review” (26 Dec.1896) after Pennell’s 1896 exhibition of transfer lithographs:

“The artist who does transfer lithographs is … using a debased instrument. It has its conveniences, it is true, but it is nonsense to talk of revival of lithography on these terms. It is full decadence. … Drawing of merit may be executed in this, as in any other medium; but the art of lithography is degraded.” (see Ed. Pat Gilmour’s [1988] “Lasting Impressions: Lithography as Art”, p. 29)

Interestingly, Pernell took Sickert to court for his advice and, according to Gilmour (1988): “In April 1897 the court decided as a matter of law that transfer lithography was indeed lithography and the jury awarded Pennell £50 in damages” (p. 360).



2 comments:

  1. This is a very interesting subject. The method that Corot favoured was a form of photographic print made from a blackened glass plate onto which an image had been etched by scratching away the blackened surface. The 'negative' thus produced by hand was printed onto photographic paper, and presumably fixed, just like a photograph. Corot made many of these though the process itself never seems to have been very popular. The litho here shown seems to me to have been made by coating a litho stone ẁith gum bi chromate and 'exposing' a cliche verre' plate to it by contact printing. The litho plate has then been processed by a lithographer
    to produre this very beautiful lithographic image. A remarkable combination of ingenious elements. Fascinating! JD

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your wonderful insights about the process JD! You explained it very well.

    ReplyDelete

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