See also : Ancient prints Political writing Modern prints Prints by Picasso Prints by Warhol
Chronology : 1820-1829 1904 1930
1795 Large Color Print by William Blake
2004 SOLD for $ 3.9M by Sotheby's
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, 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
1904 Le Repas Frugal by Picasso
2022 SOLD for £ 6M by Christie's
In 1904, Picasso's blue period ends when he appreciates that the clowns of the circuses cannot escape poverty. Le Repas Frugal (Frugal Meal) is his first trial in his mature period to create and distribute a pathetic and empathetic image with a universal impact. Its technical and emotional success is total.
The 46 x 37 cm images were printed individually from September 1904 to March 1905 by Auguste Delâtre on request by the artist. The total number is about 30. One of them was sold by Christie's for £ 620K on November 30, 2004, lot 251, and for £ 6M on March 1, 2022, lot 69. Another copy inscribed by Picasso to a friend in December 1904 was sold for £ 1.95M by Christie's on June 20, 2012, lot 16.
In addition to its extreme rarity, this first edition has another quality : it is also the best. When Vollard took over the plate and inserted it into the series of Saltimbanques in 1913, he strengthened it by electroplating so that it can support its production run of 250.
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.
At some time before 1934 the meeting of Picasso with Roger Lacourière changes the quality of graphics and printing. The drawings are getting richer. Picasso loves to experiment and he follows the instructions from his new printer who teaches to him the varied possibilities of chisel, aquatint and drypoint.
On November 14, 2016, Sotheby's sold at lot 11 for $ 2.53M the full wide margin set owned by Lacourière. The printer had retained proofs with beautiful tones executed before and during his participation. It is the rare case of a set that was not owned by Petiet but the plates are not signed.
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.
Petiet was a competent dealer but also a demanding collector. Curiously the Vollard Suite he had kept for his own collection is with small margins. It has been entirely signed by Picasso. It was sold for € 1.94M by Ader-Nordmann on November 25, 2017, lot 317.
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.
The number 3/15 of the seventh and final state was sold for $ 5.1M by Christie's on November 1, 2011 from a lower estimate of $ 1.5M, lot 2.
This print had been presented in 1938 by Picasso to Juan Larrea who had been instrumental in managing the British tour of Guernica.
2014 SOLD for £ 3.2M by Sotheby's
2015 SOLD for $ 4.6M by Christie's
1948 Océanie by Matisse
The beige walls of his apartment in Montparnasse remind him of the wonderful color of the sunlit 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 white 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 sturdy linen fabric and a pigment that exactly replicates the texture and color of the wall. The figures are picked directly from the wall with a tracing paper. Matisse releases the printing to a Belfast company under the supervision of Ascher in 1948.
Both artworks were edited in thirty screenprints each in an image format around 163 x 373 cm. According to the request of the artist, there was no other color than beige and white. La Mer is made darker than Le Ciel.
The original wall cut-off figures are kept in the Musée Matisse at Le Cateau-Cambrésis, the hometown of the artist.
2022 SOLD for € 4M by Christie's
Le Ciel is much rarer than La Mer at auction whatever the reason. The copy from her deceased estate is the 27/30, 164 x 356 cm on a 173 x 364 cm stretcher. It was sold for € 4M from a lower estimate of € 1.2M by Christie's on April 13, 2022, lot 26.
La Mer is the number 10/30, 165 x 380 cm on a 175 x 382 stretcher. It was sold for € 2.1M in the same sale as above, lot 29.
1948 La Mer
2011 SOLD for £ 2.95M by Christie's
1983 Endangered Species by Warhol
2021 SOLD for £ 2.9M by Sotheby's
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 125/150 was sold for £ 2.9M from a lower estimate of £ 350K by Sotheby's on March 17, 2021, lot 84. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
The set 32/150 of Endangered Species was sold for $ 530K by Christie's on October 27, 2010.
The 103/150 was sold for $ 725K by Heritage on October 28, 2015.
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.