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Saturday 15 October 2022

Ludovic Napoléon Lepic’s double plate etching, “King Louis’ Orchard”, 1869

Ludovic Napoléon Lepic (aka Viscomte Ludovic-Napoléon Lepic 1839-1889)

“King Louis’ Orchard” (aka “Le Verger du Roi Louis”; “Ballade de Gringoiré”), 1869, illustration plate and text plate to Théodore Faullain de Banville (1823–1891) poem, “La Ballade des Pendus” (The Ballad of the Hanged), which denounces the hangings ordered by King Louis XI … with the comparison of the hanged men to “incredible bunches of fruit” (see:; and hear the ballad “Le verger du roi Louis” sung by Georges Brassens: Note that the Abel Meeropol’s song, “Strange Fruit”, 1937, sung by Billie Holiday has “many analogies with this poem” (see Wikipedia link above). This is possibly a proof impression as it is printed on laid paper before publication in Paris on wove paper by Cadart & Luce (fl. 1867–1870/1) (see I understand that this print was exhibited in the second “Impressionist” exposition of 1876 (see [2IE-1876-134, La balade des pendus]).

Etching on two plates with dot roulette and pale plate tone printed on a full sheet of laid paper with watermark (ligature letters “MB”, similar to Lugit 168a).

Size: (sheet) 31.5 x 49 cm; (upper platemark) 12.8 x 27.9 cm; (lower platemark) 7 x 11.1 cm.

Inscribed in plate: (upper plate at lower right) “Lepic 1869”; (lower plate at left) “Sur ses larges … C'est le verger du roi Louis./ C”; (lower plate at right) “Tous ces pauvres gens … C'est le verger du roi Louis”; (lower plate at left of centre) “Gringoiré/ Th de Banville// L […] XI”.

Beraldi 3 (Henri Beraldi 1889, “Les Graveurs du XIXe Siècke; guide de l'amateur d'estampes modernes”, vol. 9, Paris, L Conquet, p. 143, cat. no. 3); BN-IFF 32.

Henri Beraldi (1889) offers the following insight about Lepic’s approach to wiping the etching plate: (Transl.) “… Count Lepic was particularly attached to the question of the impression, and the varieties of effects that obtained from a plate according to the inking mode. ... he would say, ‘the secret of etching as I get it … is the use of ink and rag: with these two weapons you can get anything from a plate. I am master in front of my plate as in front of a canvas, I can transform all the subjects according to my fancy, modify their effects. This process existed from the time of great master engravers, and I have found it’. ... Count Lepic called this kind of printing with the rather singular name ‘mobile etching’." (p. 144).

Condition: richly inked and near faultless impressions in a near pristine condition with no tears, holes, folds, abrasions, losses, stains, foxing or significant signs of handling.

I am selling this exceptionally rare double plate etching for AU$398 in total (currently US$246.97/EUR253.99/GBP220.90 at the time of posting 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 visually arresting image—mindful of its connections to François Villon’s poem (“La Ballade des Pendus”) written while he was awaiting his execution and published in 1489, Jacques Callot’s grim plate of hanged men in a tree from the series, "Great miseries of war", c1633, and, much later, the song that Billie Holiday made famous, “Strange Fruit”, 1937—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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