Masterpiece 2020: Online
22 June 2020
Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919
L'Enfant au Biscuit - Portrait de Jean Renoir. 1898.
Original lithograph in black ink. 1898/99. Absolutely exceptional first proof impression, hand printed direct from the original stone. Before any edition impressions. Hand-printed at the studio of Clot, Paris 1899. Printed at the studio of Clot and inscribed by Clot 1898 as: 'épreuve d'essai en noir' - trial proof in black. Exceptionally rare quite possibly unique in this first proof form.
Note: Subsequently (late 1898 – early 1899) this image was transferred to another stone, deliberately reducing the tonal density and a great deal of the detail shading so that it could be used as the background for an edition of 100 impressions with added colours. (See also further note below)
Ref: Stella - Renoir Graphic Work no 31. Delteil 31.
Early Provenance: Auguste Clot, with his pencil inscription.
Outstandingly rich and brilliant trial proof impression with the detail shading work which was erased in the edition impressions. On off-white chine volant paper, as typically used by Clot for proofs. Print in excellent condition; torn outer right margin corner repaired, 65 mm -2 1/2ins - clear of the image. Otherwise full sheet: 565 x 428mm. Image: 322x268mm.
An absolutely exceptional hand-printed first proof from the stone. The only true pre-edition proof that we have ever seen or found recorded (see notes below). This is the only impression so far known which shows the full richness and subtlety of Renoir’s drawing. The finely worked and detailed shading, on the face of the child and on the arm and hand for example (which disappears in the issue impressions), and the hand-wiped inking in a strong black, give the image a brilliant quality of tone and plasticity which is entirely absent in the grey-black or colour edition impressions.
L'Enfant au Biscuit, a study of Renoir’s second son Jean, was the second of three large scale lithographs which Renoir drew for Ambroise Vollard. Vollard, however, wanted the edition to be in colour. To this end Clot, the printer, took the composition which Renoir had drawn in monochrome on the stone and transferred it to another stone, deliberately reducing it in density so that it could be overprinted with colours which were derived from an impression watercoloured by Renoir.
Besides the full colour final edition there were a number of impressions printed (often referred to as proofs) of the black stone alone, but after the transfer. However these black/grey impressions have lost almost all the superb detail shading work and tonal variation which is in this true proof. The original stone used by Renoir had some edge damage. In this proof these edge faults are tangible whereas as in all other impressions they exist only in the transferred shapes.
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