Marie Laurencin, 1883-1956
La Joueuse de Flute. The Flute Player.
Original etching with aquatint and burnisher work, in black ink. 1904. Signed in pencil. Inscribed in pencil: Epreuve 2 (impression no 2). Edition of only 10 impressions or less. Probably printed by Laurencin at the studio of Delâtre, Paris 1904. Extremely rare. Ref: Marchesseau - Laurencin L'Oeuvre Gravé no 2 The most exceptional and brilliant impression of one of the greatest and rarest of Laurencin's early Symbolist prints.
Superb impression with the most subtle variations of ink tone. On pale cream wove paper. Excellent original unrestored condition. Full margins. Sheet: 12 x 7 5/8ins. Plate: 9 3/4 x 6 1/8ins (250x155mm)
The most superb example of one of Marie Laurencin's early prints that we have ever seen. The imagery is a perfect expression of the symbolism and poetic imagination which filled her very early works, and drew her into her liaison with Guillaume Apollinaire and her involvement in the Bateau Lavoir circle. The inspiration of her handling of the plate surface is outstanding, with drypoint mixed with sensitively varied aquatint tones in which, for example, the shading on the columns in the background, the pattern of birds on the cloak of the standing dancer, and the modelling of light and shadow on her body and that of the seated girl with the pipes are entirely created by the use of a burnisher, texturing and flattening the granulation of the aquatint through hand pressure. Such extraordinary delicacy of tone work is only possible on very few impressions indeed, as it almost immediately wears off the surface of the plate. This impression is inscribed as '2e epreuve - 2nd impression'. The catalogue records an edition of 10 impressions, but the rarity suggests even fewer than this. We have only ever seen one other example, and this impression is of far greater quality than that. The atmosphere evoked by this composition epitomises the whole decadent and poetic beauty of this later symbolism. The orange tree laden with fruit, the rhythmic lines of the background arches so much like a stage set, the pipe, the suggestion of the music and the swirl of the cloak around the nude figures create an atmosphere of highly charged emotion. This is the second recorded work in Laurencin's oeuvre. It was drawn in 1904, three years before she joined the Bateau Lavoir group in Montmartre, and it underlines how much this early poeticism in her image-making was a product of her own spirit. It was certainly this which Picasso admired when he first met her. That such a consummate work, executed with such genius, should be just her second work in etching underlines the real genius which filled the art of her youth.
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