LITERATURE Chevillard 424 – 443.
Sandoz 271 – 285.
Fisher 6 – 20.
PROVENANCE Justin Deschamps de Pas (1861 – Saint-Omer – 1937), bookplate.
This very rare complete set of fifteen etchings on Chine collé published for the first time in 1844.
The early cataloguer Bénédite reported that only about fifteen copies of this set were published. Fisher located nine, and leaves open the possibility that there may have been as many as twenty-five. The Gazette des Beaux-Arts published the posthumous edition in 1900 with a preface by Ary Renan and an additional sixteenth frontispiece plate.1 A typeset title page was prepared for the edition and was apparently not included in every copy. Fisher knew only two 1844 edition sets with the title page, plus two sets of proofs with it. It is not present in the current set, which was bound at the time.
Very fine and strong impressions, crisper than the impressions of the 1900 edition.
In line with Eugène Delacroix’s (1798 – Paris – 1863) series of sixteen lithographs illustrating Hamlet, which Delacroix undertook on his own initiative in 1834 and 18432, our set was conceived as an independent artistic exploration of Shakespearean themes through etching. This set marked an important milestone in Chassériau’s career and was the starting point for later series of paintings, around 1849-1856. Two oils on wood, dating from 1849 and 1850, six years after our set, directly refer to the composition of the prints: Othello et Desdemone à Venise (1849, Louvre, Département des peintures RF 3897, related to plate 2 of our set) and Le Coucher de Desdemone (1850, Louvre, Département des peintures RF 3880, related to plate 8 of our set). These two works highlights the importance of our set in Chassáeriau’s artistic development as they demonstrate how he sought to translate from black and white into colour and paint.
1 Sandoz 270; Exh. Cat., Chassériau, un Autre Romantisme, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais, Febuary-May 2002, RMN, Paris 2002, cat. no. 84, ill..
2 L. Delteil, S. Strauber, Eugène Delacroix. The Graphic Work. A Catalogue Raisonné, San Francisco, 1997, p. 260ff.