Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917) Four Heads of Women,... - Lot 8 - Daguerre

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Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917) Four Heads of Women,... - Lot 8 - Daguerre
Edgar DEGAS (1834-1917)
Four Heads of Women, 1876-1877
Lithograph from four monotypes.
Each image approximately 8 x 6.6 cm, Chine paper 23.5 x 20 cm, margins 36 x 27.5 cm.
(Delteil 54, Adhémar 44, Reed & Shapiro 27).

Superb and extremely rare proof on China paper of the only state, an edition of 5 proofs, the only proof still in private hands (the others being kept in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, the Bibliothèque de l'Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris, the Kupferstichkabinett in Berlin and the Art Institute of Chicago).
In perfect condition, with all margins, bottom edge slightly unevenly cut, edges of margins slightly yellowed, a few short handling creases, remnants of sticker on verso of left edge.
Provenance: stamp of the Degas workshop (Lugt 657), sale of the Degas workshop, Paris, 22-23 November 1918, no. 177; Maurice Fenaille (1855-1937); by descent, private collection.
This lithograph was made by transferring four separately created monotypes of women. The creation of these monotypes corresponds to a period when Degas was particularly interested in the figures of café-concert singers and actresses. Adhémar, in his 1973 catalogue raisonné, proposed to identify the models as Theresa (top left), Mme Faure (bottom right) and Ellen Andrée (top right). Only one monotype is known today, the one at the top right, which is in a private collection. It is probable that Degas made these monotypes at once, using the same small copper plate. He then assembled the still-fresh impressions of the monotypes on a lithographic stone, which was passed under a press. Under pressure, the fatty ink from the monotypes was transferred to the stone, on which sheets of paper could then be printed, resulting in this lithograph. In spite of the transfer process, the lithograph has retained the freshness and great legibility of the brushstrokes typical of monotypes.
It is impossible to know why Degas wanted to transfer monotypes onto lithographic stone, but it is one of the many experiments in printmaking that he carried out in the years 1875-1880. Did Degas intend to multiply the number of prints and cut the sheets into four to distribute the portraits of these singers? It may be noted, however, that the Fenaille print seems to be the only one printed on China paper, a refinement that does not fit with the idea of a four-piece cut. It is possible, however, to make a connection between the grouping of these four images on a single sheet and the diffusion of portrait-cards, which was developing rapidly in those same years. Degas proceeded in the same way with three other monotypes grouped together in another lithograph also printed in a few proofs (Delteil 55, Adhémar 46, Reed & Shapiro 28).

Contrary to what is indicated in the 1985 Reed & Shapiro catalogue, and following the indications given by Delteil in 1919, we believe that there are only five proofs of this lithograph (not six) which we classify in the chronological order of their known history:
1. print probably given by Degas to his friend Alexis Rouart (1844-1911) before 1911; kept by his son Henri Rouart (ca. 1870-1944), it was sold to the Bibliothèque nationale de France between 1930 and 1935 (Reserve Dc-327 / DH,3).
2. print on white paper, sold in 1911 by Gustave Pellet to Jacques Doucet (1853-1929), given by the latter to the University of Paris in 1917, now in the collections of the Bibliothèque de l'Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris (inv. EM Degas 2).
3. print in the possession of Roger Marx (1859-1913) before his death in 1913, sale of his collection, Paris, 26 April-2 May 1914, no. 405, now in the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin
4. print on Chine appliqué, kept in Degas's studio (Lugt mark 657), sale of the Degas studio, Paris, 22-23 November 1918, no. 177, probably bought at the sale by Maurice Fenaille (1855-1937), remained in his descendants to this day
5. print on white paper, kept in Degas's studio (Lugt mark 657), sale of the Degas studio, Paris, 22-23 November 1918, no. 178, kept since 1952 in the Art Institute of Chicago (inv. 1952-236).
Maurice Fenaille, a well-informed collector, was particularly fond of Degas, whose rare sheets he collected. Two exceptional plates, Dans les coulisses and
Dancer putting on her slipper (Reed & Shapiro 38 and 55) were sold by us in the Daguerre sale on 6 December 2006 (nos. 50 and 51).
December 6, 2006 (n°50 and 51).
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