November 3, 2016, 10:30 AM EST
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Lot 297: CAMILLE PISSARRO Baigneuses luttant (variante).(33 views)
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Baigneuses luttant (variante).
Lithograph printed in black and gray on cream wove paper, circa 1894. 180x260 mm; 7 1/4x10 1/4 inches, full margins. One of approximately only 6 or 7 lifetime impressions. Signed, titled and inscribed "Ep. d'état no. 1" in pencil, lower margin. A superb impression of this exceedingly scarce lithograph.
This impression cited by Delteil as ex-collection M. Tailliardat, Paris, the artist's lithographic printer. There is another impression in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Rosenwald Collection. We have found only one other impression at auction in the past 30 years.
Pissarro created half as many lithographs as his body of etched work. The constraints of working with a lithographic printer and the inherent technical complexities of the medium, compared to etching, were likely a deterrent. Nevertheless, his lithographs from the 1890s, particularly those of the bathers as well as the views of Rouen, emit a spontaneity of draughtsmanship along with a strong play of light and dark that is parallel to his paintings and drawings.
Shapiro notes, "Details of the bathers' faces and bodies are subordinated to dynamic patterns of sharp light and shadow, which lend a feeling of energetic movement tot he print. With superb control of a difficult lithographic technique, diluted tusche, Pissarro has modeled the figures with translucent gray washes, and with vigorous strokes has depicted foliage and grass against the dark riverbank. The bather seated at the right is in a pose that Pissarro particularly favored, and this motif is seen frequently in other prints and paintings."
Pissarro used this composition, in reverse, in another lithograph, Baigneuses luttant, 1894, variations of the subject of nude female bathers frolicking in the water in an etching, Les Quatre Baigneuses, circa 1895, and another lithograph, Baigneuses à l'Ombre des Berges Boisées, 1895 (Delteil 159, 118 and 142 respectively), as well as paintings and drawings (see Pissarro/Snollaerts 1101-1107). He was also doubtlessly aware of and might have been referencing Renoir's iconic treatment of this subject, Les Grandes Baigneuses, oil on canvas, 1884-1887, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Delteil 160.