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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Camille Lefèvre's lithograph, “Orphee”, c.1900

Camille Lefèvre (1853–1933)

“Orphee”, c.1900, proof-state lithograph before formal lettering for publication (?) showing a water nymph caressing the soulfully singing head of Orpheus that had floated to the isle of Lesbos after Orpheus had been torn apart by dreadful Ciconian Maenads. For those wondering why Ciconian Maenads wouldn’t like a good-looking dude who simply enjoyed singing to himself, the answer is simple: they were upset that he preferred men to women!  At first, they simply threw sticks and stones at him while he sang under a tree, but the tree liked Orpheus’ singing and repelled the missiles. Not to be stopped in their desire to prove that they were more lovely than men, they ripped him into pieces and flung his bits into the sea. Luckily, the chap still had his head about him and continued singing as he bobbed his way to Lesbos … and the story began again.

Note: Although Camille Lefèvre is better known for his sculptures, he was also a luminary featured in Edouard Duchâtel’s (fl.1893) treatise on Fine Art lithography, “Traité de Lithographie Artistique”, published in 1893 in Paris. By intention, this publication was aimed at rekindling artistic interest in the medium of lithography—a method of printmaking that had been largely left to what the Metropolitan Museum of Art describes as “the domain of commercial and scientific printers” since its initial development in the 1790s (see

Lithograph printed in black ink on pale grey chine collé (China) on white wove paper backed with a support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 28.4 x 41.8 cm: (image borderline) 24 x 33.2 cm.
Inscribed on plate along the lower edge: (left) “ORPHEE”; (right) “Cam. Lefevre.”

Condition: delicately strong impression with adequate margins (varying in size from 1.5 cm at the bottom to 4.5 cm on the right side), laid onto a support of archival (millennium quality) washi paper. The sheet is in excellent condition (i.e. there are no tears, folds, holes, abrasions, stains, foxing or signs of use), with the chine collé sheet laminated slightly off-centre to the right.

I am selling this rarely seen lithograph—I have been unable to locate another copy of it in any of the online archives—exemplifying the artist’s haptic approach to portraying the subject (i.e. drawing the subject by feeling its form as if by touch rather than by simply reproducing what it looks like) wherein contour lines are used like chisel strokes on a sculpture, for the total cost of AU$230 (currently US$141.82/EUR451.32/GBP120.47at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world (but not, of course, any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries).

If you are interested in purchasing this superbly drawn lithograph showing the artist’s admiration for the work of his friend (and sometimes rival), Auguste Rodin—compare Lefèvre’s nymph with Rodin’s “Danaïd” ( and “Andromède” (—and the rounded feminine forms sculpted by his colleague, Aimé-Jules Dalou, please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

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