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Lithograph; 1861. Van Gelder 100, first edition, 1861; Becker, first state of two; Préaud 29, first state, before 1A and 1B. The earliest printing of 1861, before the black smudge on the left leg of the monkey noted by David Becker, and before the so-called white bird and the white thistles.
A brilliant impression printed on white chine appliqué in fine condition; the paper toned, some scattered foxing, visible chiefly in the large, presumably full margins. Attached at the edges of the sheet to a mounting board with the address RUE ST ANTOINE DU T NO 21/ VITAUX/ENCADREUR. As Vitaux was listed as a framer and print dealer in Toulouse, this mounting is especially important in the relative dating and history of our impression.
In 1861 Bresdin brought his lithographic stone for Le Bon Samaritain from Toulouse where he lived to Lemercier in Paris where it was printed for the first time between mid March and mid April. On May 1st he exhibited it at the Paris Salon and on May 6th at the Exposition des Beaux-Arts organized by the Union Artistique in Toulouse, where it was listed in the catalogue, Bresdin (Rodolphe) à Paris. 6: Le Samaritain.
Bresdin had written to his friend Justin Capin, living near Toulouse, in early April to ask him to sell some 12 impressions of the lithograph to his friends. Vitaux’s label strongly suggests that our impression is one of those few very early impressions offered in Toulouse. Vitaux was indeed a member of the Toulouse Union Artistique where the exhibition was mounted. Bresdin’s letter to Capin suggests that the lithograph should be framed so as to make them more salable, thus the Vitaux label on the verso of the backing board on this extremely early impression constitutes very strong evidence that our impression was one of the 12 sent early on to Toulouse in 1861 and thus one of the earliest printed.
Our sheet then constitutes not only a rare and beautiful example of one of the principal lithographs in France in the 19th century, but also an important historical artifact of Bresdin’s artistic career.