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Ginestet-Pouillon, p. 147, n. E 239
To the plate-mark 400 x 304 mm, the entire sheet measuring 605 x 436 mm
Drypoint, signed in the plate Jacques Villon, signed in pencil at bottom right Jacques Villon, numbered at bottom left 1/16, inscribed in pencil lower right Bon à tirer / 16 épreuves
A fine impression, printed with tone on laid paper with arches watermark. With full, uncut margins, in very good condition.
Jacques Villon (born Gaston Duchamp), master of Cubist printmaking, was the elder brother of artists Raymond Duchamp – Villon and Marcel Duchamp. Villon had a spare and gentle demeanour, accompanied by a devotion to precise analysis and a meticulous attention to process and craftsmanship. A printmaker throughout his career, he also began painting seriously in about 1910 and continued as a painter until his death. Villon closely analyzed his subjects, fragmenting them into Cubist facets, dividing them into stacked planes viewed from above, or infusing them with what he called an inner line of movement. While he had an unsurpassed ability to suggest volume and tone with the black-and-white lines of an etching, he demonstrated an equally acute and subtle sense of color in his paintings.
Jacques Villon learned the methods of intaglio printmaking from his maternal grandfather Émile Nicolle. The young artist portrayed his grandfather in one of his first etchings in 1891. Villon moved to Paris to study law in 1894, and he soon began submitting drawings to illustrated newspapers. He simultaneously started producing superb color aquatints in the sophisticated manner of the Belle Époque, many of which were inspired by the French artists Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Helleu.
Around 1907, Villon began to make black-and-white etchings and drypoints almost exclusively, abandoning the colour aquatints he had previously preferred. Soon he eliminated detail and simplified the forms in his compositions, shifting radically away from the elegant Belle Époque manner. The spare Young Girl at the Piano is among the earliest examples of Villon’s new style. He continued to portray the cabaret subjects typical of his earlier work, however, rather than describing the figures in detail, he began reducing their forms to simplified patches of parallel strokes, a method that prefigures the segmented, faceted planes in which he rendered the characters in his Cubist prints.
In 2001, the Philadelphia Museum of Art organized an exhibition devoted to Villon, presenting 33 prints and one drawing donated to the museum by the Judith de Rothschild Foundation. The exhibition included an example of our drypoint.