November 3, 2016, 10:30 AM EST
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Lot 255: CAMILLE PISSARRO Foire de Saint-Martin à Pontoise.(23 views)
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Foire de Saint-Martin à Pontoise.
Drypoint and aquatint printed in black on cream laid paper, 1879. 119x160 mm; 4 3/4x6 1/4 inches, full margins. Fourth state (of 4). One of only 3 impressions in this state, from a total of only 7 lifetime impressions in all four states combined. Signed, titled and inscribed "Effet de pluie" and "No. 2 Epreuve d'artiste" in pencil, lower margin. A brilliant, richly-inked impression of this exceedingly scarce print, with crisp, inky plate edges
This impression sold Kornfeld, Bern, June 1988, lot 122. We have found only one other impression, unsigned, at auction in the past 30 years.
Pissarro started working closely with Degas, who was experimenting with and perfecting his aquatint techniques at the time (he was also advising Mary Cassatt), during the late 1870s. Though he was living in Pontoise, 20 miles northwest of Paris, Pissarro sent proofs of his etchings to Degas and received suggestions and critiques from Degas in return. Degas also printed proofs for Pissarro from the plates he brought with him from Pontoise to Paris on visits to the city.
On one occasion in 1879, having received a group of prints from Pissarro, Degas wrote, "Here are the proofs: the prevailing blackish or rather grayish shade comes from the zinc [plate] which is greasy in itself and retains the printer's black. The plate is not smooth enough. I feel sure that you have not the same facilities at Pontoise [as Degas' studio in Paris] . . . In spite of that you must have something a bit more polished." He might have been referring to proofs of this print, in which the most heavily-inked passages stand out in a much stronger black and the aquatint tone in the sky is uneven. Pissarro continued to refine his aquatint work with Degas's tutelage and reached a peak, producing masterful impressionist effects with the technique, in his La Masure, 1879 (see lot 254) and Paysage en long, 1879. Delteil 21.