Gallery of prints for sale

Friday 3 February 2017

Brunet-Debaines’ etching, “Looking out to Sea”

Alfred Louis Brunet-Debaines (1845–1939)
“Looking out to Sea”, 1881, published by Colnaghi
Etching with dot roulette on fine cream wove paper.
Proof state impression signed in pencil
Size: (sheet) 32 x 24.5 cm: (plate) 24.5 x 19 cm; (image borderline) 18.2 x 15 cm
Publisher's details scratched on plate, at top-left edge: “London, Published April 4th 1881 by P. D Colnaghi, 13 & 14, Pall Mall, East”; at lower right of image, signed by artist: “ABrunet Debaines”; below, signed by artist in pencil: “Brunet–Debaines”.
IFF Not described (Inventaire du Fonds Français: Bibliothèque Nationale, Département des Estampes, Paris, 1930); Beraldi 1885-92 Not described (Henri Beraldi 1885, “Les Graveurs du dix-neuvième siècle”, 12 vols plus supplement, Paris)

The British Museum holds another of the pencil-signed proof states of this etching and offers the following description of the print:
“Seascape and coast scene at sunset; a shepherd seated on the edge of a cliff, sheep grazing around him, at right; a boat on the sea at centre; two rocks in the sea at left; in the far distance, the sun setting; proof with scratched letters. 1881 Etching” (

Condition: faultless, crisp proof state impression in near pristine condition, signed in pencil by the artist. There are remnants of glue from mounting (verso).

I am selling this exceptionally rare pencil-signed proof impression in virtually faultless condition by one of the famous printmakers of the nineteenth century for AU$156 (currently US$119.18/EUR111.03/GBP95.42 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this remarkably poetic print—a perfect example of the romantic spirt of the time—please contact me ( and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold

My decision to post this very romantic print is the outcome of an interesting email exchange that I’ve been having with a customer who asked (amongst other questions) whether original etchings from the nineteenth century (and earlier) that are signed in the plate and published in open/large editions in books were as valuable as those that are pencil-signed and printed in small editions by the artist.

Of course, the answer SHOULD be that prints pulled from a studio press by the artist’s own hands in very small editions and pencil-signed by the artist MUST be more desirable to collectors and more expensive than prints published in large numbers by publishing houses. There is, however, a problem with answering this question as I explain in my reply:

“… you are right that most prints before the mid-nineteenth century were signed in the plate but were seldom hand-signed. The custom of hand signing in pencil arguably began with Whistler in 1880 and so, in terms of prints older than 1880, the price of them is not really driven by whether they were hand signed because they simply weren't hand signed at all. If I may generalise (always dangerous), prints before the mid-nineteenth century were invariably made for a market rather than an artist making prints to satisfy a personal indulgent interest with no view to the market.

Mindful of this leaning to make prints for the market rather than personal indulgence, they were published in large (often undisclosed) editions and often printed by other folk (hence the different terms lettered on prints showing the people responsible for publishing them) and they were usually published in either folios or in books.

The elusive elements that makes prints desirable to collectors are: the reputation of the artist who made the print, the quality of the impression and the uniqueness of the impression ... and then, of course, all the other elements that come together that describe a masterwork.”

Returning to my interest in posting this print, the hand-inscribed signature does make the print attractive for collectors but I need to point out that it was inscribed only one year after Whistler introduced the idea of hand-signed prints.

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