One of the very rare artist proofs on Chinese paper, aside from the numbered edition, which does not carry the title La Puce.
The woman's contour and hair are lightened with a scraper. The plate is sugar-lifted : paint brush and wooden stick. The woman's blouse, her hair and contour are emphasized ; she is wearing a necklace. The top of her head goes well beyond the frame. The background is entirely covered with aquatint, and worked on with light scrapes. The aquatint goes well beyond the lower part of the frame and lightly stains the entire composition.
Marthe Fequet and Pierre Baudier, Art printers and typographers, printed the major works of French and non-French Masters of the 20th century. From the 19th century on, book-lovers would meet in bibliophile societies. Bibliophiles were lovers of rare books, often wealthy people and proud of their library and collection. This fashion reached its height between the wars, in the 20th century. At the time, Féquet and Baudier printed a considerable number of rare books for the most prestigious publishing houses : Ambroise Vollard and Martin Fabiani, as well as numerous bibliophile societies. The studio was flourishing ; the war years had been great years for them, confirming their reputation. This was based on Marthe Féquet's gift for working with poets, artists and publishers and understanding what books they wished to produce. After the war, along with publishers Aimé Maeght, Louis Broder, Gérard Cramer and Pierre Lecuire, who all entrusted them with rare books to print, Féquet and Baudier would fully contribute to the golden age of the print and illustrated book in France, creating a strong relationship between artists and craftsmen and women. Having put their creative genius at the service of artists, many entrusted them with the production of their prints such as Miro, Matisse, Arp, Braque, Chagall and Nicolas de Staël. For more than half a century, the Féquet and Baudier studio was undoubtedly the studio of choice. They printed some of the most beautiful books on modern artists.
Histoire Naturelle by Buffon, ilustrated by Picasso
Picasso, like Miro, Matisse, Chagall, and Rouault, was an assiduous creator of prints for many livres du peintre. A case in point: the etchings illustrated below made for Buffon's Histoire Naturelle and the linocut that was published as a result of Picasso's fascination with his own work.
In 1936, Vollard commissioned Picasso for a suite of etchings to illustrate texts from the Count of Buffon's eighteenth-century text (published in 44 volumes!). Picasso, whom the printer Roger Lacouriere, had just introduced to the technique of lift-ground aquatint (which involves coating a copper plate with a sugar-water solution, working the plate with aquatint, and then soaking the plate to dissolve the sugar ground and lighten the surface of the plate) was eager to test out this new printing method, which enables the artist to work in a much wider range of grays between etchings's black and white, and produced 32 plates between 1936 and 1937. The plates were printed in 1937, but after Vollard's death in an automobile accident in 1939, they remained unpublished until Vollard's associate, Martin Fabiani, brought them out in 1942.
The portfolio was published in an edition of 226 copies (including 36 copies on various papers containing a separate suite of the prints with remarques, 55 copies on Montval wove, and 135 copies on Vidalon wove watermarked "Ambroise" or "Vollard". The spontaneity of the plates is attested by the freehand margins, the rapidly drawn line, aand the use of finger.
Former collection Fequet & Baudier
Georges Bloch, Pablo Picasso, Catalogue de l'œuvre gravé et lithographié, Vol. I, 1904 - 1967, Berne, Editions Kornfeld & Klipstein, 1968, n° 359 Brigitte Baer, Picasso peintre-graveur, Éditions Kornfeld n° 606 Sebastian Goeppert, Herma Goeppert-Frank Patrick Cramer, Pablo Picasso, Catalogue raisonné