Gallery of prints for sale

Wednesday 10 January 2024

Adolphe Willette’s lithograph, “Les Funérailles”, c.1898

Adolphe Willette (aka Adolphe Léon Willette) (1857-1926)

“Les Funérailles” (aka “The Funeral”; “La Retraite de Russie. L'Empereur et sa Troupe”), c.1898 (date of attribution is based on the reproduction of this lithograph in an article by Léonce Benedite published in 1898), lithograph printed in Paris by Lemercier (aka Lemercier & Cie) (fl.1827–1899[?]).

Crayon-manner lithograph printed in black and tan ink on wove paper (imitation Japanese?), possibly with reduced margins.

Size: (sheet) 32.8 x 44.9 cm.

Inscribed in plate: (lower left) “’ LES FUNÉRAILLES ‘/ Lithographie originale de
A. WILLETTE”; (lower right) “A. Willette/ Impies. Lemercier, Paris.”

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco offer a brief description of this print (no image):

I understand that a reduced size version of this lithograph was published by the artist, Paul-Émile Boutigny (1853–1929), as an illustration to issue number 25 of the French magazine, “Cocorico”, in 1899.

Interestingly, the Osenat Auction House (Osenat Maison de vente aux enchères), showcases what may be a preparatory study executed in “pencil and charcoal” for this lithograph, but (to my eyes examining only the reproduced image) the signature, its placement, along with the colour of the sheet, seem very similar to the lithograph (see lot 36)

Regarding the artist’s approach to making images, Léonce Benedite (1898) in the article, “Adolphe Willette” in “Die Graphischen Künste”, vol. 21 (Vienna, Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst) offers the following insights: (transl.) “He [Adolphe Willette] is not an impressionist, not a pointillist, not a symbolist, not a decadent, he does not flirt with Japan, England or Germany in his art. He is as French as one can be, a descendant of Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, and therefore clings to tradition and his principles are, so to speak, classic. ‘You can only create something new by rearranging the old,’ he writes in Pierrot (January 11, 1889)” (p. 80).

Condition: a well-printed impression in a good condition with no tears, holes, folds or significant stains, beyond a dark mark at the lower left corner.

I am selling this amazingly subtle lithograph showing a personification of death leading Napoleon and his troops on their wintery retreat through fog and snow from Russia, for the total cost of AU$256 (currently US$171.56/EUR156.79/GBP135.08 at the time of posting this print) including Express Mail (EMS) postage and handling to anywhere in the world, but not (of course) any import duties/taxes imposed by some countries.

f you are interested in purchasing this very rare lithograph (mindful that there are reduced size versions of it published in “Cocorico”, in 1899) featuring a very sad looking dog trailing behind the men—possibly a cold and wet French Poodle/Caniche?—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

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