Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Alphonse Legro’s etching (with drypoint), “Along the Marne”, 1837


Alphonse Legros (1837–1911)

“Along the Marne” (Sur la Marne), 1837

Etching and drypoint with plate tone on cream wove paper with small margins backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 14.3 x 10.6 cm; (plate) 11.6 x 7.9 cm
Signed in pencil by the artist in the margin at lower right

Bliss 1923, no. 346 (Campbell Dodgson [Preface] 1923, “A Catalogue of the Etchings, Drypoints and Lithographs by Professor Alphonse Legros (1837-1911) In the Collection of Frank E. Bliss”, privately printed, London)
See the description of this print at the National Gallery of Art: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.42878.html  

Condition: richly inked and well-printed proof-state impression pencil signed by the artist with small margins laid onto a support sheet of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, holes, folds, or abrasions, but there is minor age-toning and a few light marks from handling).

I am selling this small proof-state print by one of the most famous of the 19th century printmakers, for AU$167 in total (currently US$129.73/EUR104.95/GBP90.59 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.

If you are interested in purchasing this sensitive study revealing Legro’s use of rich velvety lines of drypoint in the foreground to give pictorial depth to the distant trees rendered with delicately etched lines, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


I can imagine that this small print could be easily dismissed by a potential collector as a minor study by one of the major 19th century printmakers. After all the featured subject is not exactly visually arresting like an eye-catching waterfall, craggy tree or a landscape populated with folk doing interesting things. From my standpoint, Legros’ choice of subject seems to be what was in front of him at the time: nothing much in particular apart from a few panels of a wooden fence in the foreground with a view to distant trees and a simple house on the far right.

What makes this study interesting for me, however, is not the unremarkable subject. Instead my interest focuses on the sensitive adjustments that Legros has made to this scene. Note, for instance, how Legros uses the rich and velvety black created by the burr of drypoint to create the visual effect of a pictorially advancing but out-of-focus foreground. By contrast, note how the artist uses finely hatched etched lines overlaid with sparsely drawn critical details of the featured trees to connote the far distance. To my eyes these adjustments to the composition are what this print is all about. In a way Legos’ adjustments are somewhat similar to the adjustments that Cezanne made to his apples in that Cezanne’s still-life paintings are not valued for what is portrayed but rather for the way that they are portrayed—the subtlety of the artist’s aesthetic vision.







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