Thursday, 23 February 2017

Jacques Villon’s etching (from a cancelled plate) of a young man


Jacques Villon (1875– 1963)
“Portrait of Baudelaire” (cancelled plate), early 1900s (Note: the title of this print is based on information given to me at the time of purchase and may be inaccurate as the Baudelaire had passed away well before Villon was born and the portrait, if it is indeed of Baudelaire, is of a young man.)

Etching and drypoint with two cancellation marks (at lower centre) on wove paper with watermark (ntgolfier), signed in the plate
Size: (sheet) 31.8 x 23.9 cm: (plate) 23.5 x 17.5

Condition: excellent impression from the cancelled plate. The sheet is in pristine condition.

I am selling this fluidly drawn etching of the famous poet, arts writer and (according to Wikipedia) a “pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe”, Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821–67), printed from the original but cancelled printing plate for a total cost of AU$132 (currently US$101.55/EUR96.23/GBP81.54 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this delicate and very beautiful print taken from a cancelled etching plate, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy. 


I avoid purchasing prints where I can see clearly that the artist had wished that the printing plate was not to be used any longer—a wish that is evident (or “flagged”) by the two diagonal strokes at the lower centre of the image. Notwithstanding this reservation, I succumbed to acquiring this print partly because the impression is so very crisp and shows no sign of wear to the plate. More important, however, is the beauty of the image itself: a sensitively executed study underpinned with an early twentieth century leaning to fractured and layered surfaces.

What I love about this print are the freely drawn strokes that are laid as if Villon were “feeling” the form of the young man (purportedly Baudelaire but I have a lingering doubt about this because Baudelaire departed the planet eight years before Villon was born … and this is a very young Baudelaire) with the stylus without necessarily looking at closely at the subject’s superficial features. Of particular interest is the layering of the strokes with an upper layer of darker “sketchy” contour strokes overlaying a tonal mass of tightly aligned, almost mechanically drawn, diagonal strokes. Essentially, this portrait is created from two different mindsets: an analytical way of looking and thinking where mass is perceived and ordered, and a more intuitive way of responding where a unimpeded flow of unpremeditated strokes explore and “shape” the subject.






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