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[Title Page for ‘Le Sourire’]
Woodcut, 138 x 219 mm. Guérin 74, Kornfeld 61, C.
Very fine impression printed in black on thin japan paper (sheet: 150 x 227 mm), monogrammed PG bottom left in the plate (barely visible in this impression, as in some others) and numbered n°18 in ink by Gauguin lower left.
In perfect condition.
Gauguin made this woodcut as a head piece for the title page of the 5th edition of his periodical Le Sourire (December 1899) (edition of 25 to 30 copies, four mentioned by Kornfeld). He also printed about thirty impressions of the woodcut alone in black or grey on thin japan paper. Guérin listed eight impressions (among which the impressions numbered n°14 and n°24) and two impressions printed in copies of Le Sourire. Kornfeld lists eighteen impressions, among which ten are numbered 2, 3, 7, 10, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 27 and eight are without number or without number known (impressions numbered n°11 and n°25 later sold in auction sales may be part of these eight impressions). Kornfeld also mentions four impressions printed in copies of Le Sourire.
Gauguin made a total of eighteen woodcuts for Le Sourire, from the fourth issue onwards (November 1899); previous issues had been illustrated with mimeographed sketches. The woodcuts were printed on the page after it had been mimeographed and the quality of the printing varies from copy to copy.
Unlike some other titles for Le Sourire, the woodblock for this title was never found. There is therefore no posthumous edition. Only a poor reproduction from the impression numbered n°25 was edited by The Grabhorn Press at 250 copies on japan paper in 1943.
Le Sourire, journal méchant [The Smile, a mean magazine] was a satirical publication that was entirely mimeographed and printed by Gauguin. Nine issues were published between August 1899 and April 1900. In December 1899, Gauguin wrote to Daniel de Monfreid: “I created a newspaper, Le Sourire, using the Edison mimeograph, and it’s all the rage. Unfortunately people borrow it from each other and I have sold very few copies.” (in L.-J. Bouge ed., Le Sourire, Papeete, 1899-1900, Paris 1952, p. 10).