Chronology : 1650-1659 1820-1829 1930
1655 The Art of Dry Point
2018 SOLD for £ 2.65M including premium
His solutions are innovative. The dry point was used until then in addition to etching and chisel for minor reworks of the drawing. Rembrandt attempts compositions entirely in dry point. Applied obliquely like a pencil, his needle improves the variety of the line. The incision of the point in the copper is shallow, allowing a harmony between the drawing and the inkings left voluntarily on the plate to bring contrasts and shadows.
A fine image deserves a great paper. Rembrandt was seduced by a stock recently imported in Amsterdam by the Dutch East India Company, with a beautiful light brown-yellow hue and a fibre that does not absorb ink and provides a sharpness comparable to vellum.
His first masterpiece in these improved techniques is The Three Crosses (Christ crucified between the two thieves), 38 x 45 cm, made in 1653. He prepares shortly after in the same size another scene of the Passion, Ecce Homo (Christ presented to the people). The oriental paper is smaller than his copperplate and he adds a narrow extra stripe at the top of the image.
An impression of the first state of Ecce Homo is for sale by Christie's in London on July 5, lot 22. The press release of April 30 announces an estimate in the region of US $ 3M to 5M. It is the only copy remaining in private hands from the first four states of this image.
The copper plates wear out, preventing large printing. The artist deliberately blurs some damaged areas of Ecce Homo after its fourth state. The eighth and last state is dated 1655. For the fourth and penultimate state of the Three Crosses around 1661, he works differently, replacing the subtle smoky contrasts by diagonal streaks.
This solution could not satisfy the artist because of the painstaking preparation of the ink shades and of the necessarily incomplete and frustrating repairs to the worn plates. He will not reuse this technique, giving up the possible project of a dry point series on the Passion of Christ.
1795 Large Color Print by William Blake
2004 SOLD for $ 3.9M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Of modest origin, son of a hosier, he follows an original path, wishing the union of all religions, in hostile reaction against the philosophers of Reason. To prepare his illuminated books, he develops in 1788 a technique of relief etching.
In 1795 Blake is tempted by using engraving techniques for images in larger format. He takes up twelve themes from his previous works, inspired by the Bible, Shakespeare and Milton, without forgetting the famous figures of Newton and Nebuchadnezzar. This set is known as the Large Color Prints. He reworked the finishing of several prints around 1805.
For this series he is preparing his drawings on gessoed cardboard, with perhaps one exception on copper. Each matrix can be used two to four times. The technique was not documented in period, but these images should not be assimilated to monotypes. The watercoloring is often very different between works from the same matrix.
The total surviving production for the 12 themes is 30 copies, three of which are in private hands. On May 5, 2004, Sotheby's sold a Large color print for $ 3.9M including premium, lot 5. Its theme of Good and Evil Angels struggling for possession of a child is inspired from Swedenborg. This image 44 x 58 cm is vividly colored.
1824 Facsimile of the US Declaration of Independence
2021 SOLD for $ 4.4M by Freeman's
The duplicate signed by the 56 delegates in early August, 1776 was becoming a symbol of the American liberty. Unfortunately it was badly deteriorating. In 1820 the Secretary of State and future President John Quincy Adams commissioned the printer William J. Stone to print an exact facsimile.
The engraving was made with a wet ink process by which some of the original ink was transferred to a copper plate which was etched. The engraving was completed and dated in 1823 and the printing was made in 1824 in 200 copies on 80 x 70 cm vellum. Approximately fifty are located.
Two copies were presented to one of the three surviving original signers, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, former delegate and senator of Maryland, aged 87. They were presented by Carroll to his grandson-in-law in 1826 after the death of the last two other signers, former Presidents John Adams and Jefferson.
One of them, inscribed by Carroll, went in 1844 to the Maryland Historical Society. The grandson-in-law copied this inscription on the other document with a reference to the autographed Carroll copy.
This second Carroll copy was discovered in a Scottish attic by Cathy Marsden, specialist of rare books at the Edinburgh auction company Lyon and Turnbull, and transferred for auction to their sister company Freeman's based in Philadelphia. It was sold by Freeman's on July 1, 2021 for $ 4.4M from a lower estimate of $ 500K, lot 1. Please watch the video shared by Freeman's.
A historic discovery! Our sister auction house, Freeman’s, is pleased to announce the sale of a signer’s copy of William J. Stone’s 1823 printing of the #DeclarationofIndependence recently rediscovered in Scotland by Lyon & Turnbull. Find out more: https://t.co/RiosDcVn4k pic.twitter.com/xSL20pV2Do— Lyon & Turnbull (@LyonandTurnbull) June 24, 2021
1930-1937 La Suite Vollard by PICASSO
2019 SOLD for $ 4.8M by Christie's
97 images were engraved by Picasso between 1930 and 1934. While admiring the gentle Marie-Thérèse, Pablo finds back the fiery impulses of his youth. Far away from Cubism, minotaurs and fauns approach with brutality or delicacy the snoozing women with appealing curves. The theme of the sculptor's studio is also abundant. The supplement up to the requested figure of 100 is assured in 1937 with three portraits of Vollard by Picasso.
Vollard died in 1939 in the same death as Aeschylus, reportedly because a jolt unbalanced a statue that fell on his neck in the back seat of a car in which he was sleeping. The series of the hundred pictures had no title and will never have one. It will be known as La Suite Vollard.
Vollard had just started dealing with the Suite. In the 1940s the dealer Henri M. Petiet acquires the stock. Picasso then signed prints for cash as and when Petiet got orders for full sets, from his first sale in 1950 until the artist withdraw from that process in 1969. These Petiet sets were not serialized. Petiet also offered single prints for sale.
A complete set with wide margins, fully signed by Picasso for Petiet, was sold for $ 4.8M from a lower estimate of $ 3M on November 11, 2019 by Christie's, lot 55 A.
2013 SOLD for £ 2.66M by Sotheby's
1937 La Femme qui pleure by Picasso
2011 SOLD for $ 5.1M by Christie's
Picasso's sensitivity is exacerbated in 1937. The softness of Marie-Thérèse is no more sufficient to provide him the ideal vision of the woman. He refuses the divorce requested by Olga. His new muse met in the previous year, Dora, active, aggressive, politically engaged, has another behavior.
Pablo said later that Dora always symbolized for him the weeping woman, basically meaning the suffering woman. She thus became a model for the mater dolorosa, understood by the artist as an attitude ranging from a passive sentimentality to an activist rage against oppression.
Dora accompanies the gradual creation of Guernica and produces a photographic report of the preparation of the artwork. A crying woman could be a candidate to enter this terrible scene. He sketched and painted various figures of La Femme qui pleure.
He gave up featuring the weeping woman within Guernica, probably after appreciating that the image of victimized women based on Marie-Thérèse will better reinforce his political message on the horror of war.
He was nevertheless still haunted by that image. During a single day, July 1, he executed seven consecutive printed states of La Femme qui pleure, 69 x 49 cm on 77 x 57 cm sheet size. Satisfied by the third and by the last state, he printed and numbered fifteen copies each from both of them. He completed Guernica three days later.
The difference is significant between the third and seventh state. The lines become darker and stronger, especially in the hair. In the final state, the rage expressed by Dora matches in intensity the message of Guernica.
This work is designated as La Femme qui pleure I to differentiate it from a later image.
2014 SOLD for 3.2 M£ by Sotheby's
2015 SOLD for $ 4.6M by Christie's
1948 Océanie - la Mer by Matisse
2011 SOLD for £ 2.95M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2018 before the sale of another copy by Sotheby's (see below)
The beige walls of his apartment in Montparnasse remind him of the color of the beaches in Tahiti. He cuts in a white paper the stylized forms that his assistant Lydia pins on the wall. His aim is to create two tapestry cartoons forming pendants, Océanie - le ciel and Océanie - la mer, respectively populated with birds and fish.
In 1946 while Matisse was busy on this project Zika Ascher came to visit Paris. A fashion designer based since 1942 in London, Ascher usually works with Henry Moore. He now wants to edit a series of scarves prepared by a plurality of artists. Almost all of them including Matisse respond favorably.
Ascher also convinces Matisse to print his Océanie. Matisse is very demanding but Ascher manages to find a linen cloth and a pigment that exactly replicate the texture and sand color of the wall. The artist's attention to the sand anticipates by two decades Agnes Martin's escape in the desert.
Both artworks were edited in 1946-1947 in thirty copies each in an image format around 163 x 373 cm.
The Fondation Beyeler owns the pair 4/30. The number 26/30 of La Mer was sold by Christie's for £ 2.95M including premium on June 21, 2011 over a lower estimate of £ 500K, lot 16. It was then coming directly from the Beyeler estate after having belonged to the Matisse family.
The copy 20/30 of La Mer was sold for $ 1.22M including premium by Sotheby's on April 26, 2018, lot 15.
1983 Made-Up Animals
2021 SOLD for £ 2.9M including premium
At the instigation of an activist, Warhol publishes a series on the Endangered Species in 1983, in 150 copies 96 x 96 cm plus 30 artist's proofs. He also paints canvases with the same images. The animals are chosen from among the most spectacular species protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
The playful effect is more obvious than for the other series. Warhol enjoys making up his new stars with pop colors as he had done in the past with Marilyn and Mao. Most are copies of photographs, but the giant panda recaptures the stylized graphics of the artist's early days, when he was directly influenced by advertising art.
The set 32/150 was sold for $ 530K including premium by Christie's on October 27, 2010. The 103/150 was sold for $ 725K including premium by Heritage on October 28, 2015. The 125/150 is estimated £ 350K for sale by Sotheby's in London on March 17, lot 84. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
Warhol's contribution to preserving biodiversity does not stop there. In 1986 a book titled Vanishing Animals is illustrated by him with colored drawings. The selected species are less famous but just as threatened as the Endangered Species.