Félix Buhot was a keen observer of 19th century Paris, employing a range of graphic techniques to render his vision.
After meticulous preparation,
he painstakingly reworked
his plates in numerous states (building up the image so to speak),
varied their inking, and tried out different papers so as to obtain the
desired. As Bourcard clearly states,
"Il y a eu des épreuves d'essai très nombreuses et une variété extraordinaire de tirages dans les divers exemplaires de cette planche... Il existe de l'état avant les mots : L'Art, le chiffre 25, et la rubrique L'Hiver de 1879 à Paris, quelques rares épreuves d'artiste.."
were numerous trial proofs pulled and an extraordinary variety of
printings in the various impressions of this plate. There exist a
few rare artist's proofs of the state before the words: L'Art, the number 25, et la rubrique L'Hiver de 1879 à Paris."
The present print, one of his best known, exemplifies these preoccupations. The published version appeared in the journal L'Art (n° 314) in January 1881.
Buhot here illustrates the
snowbound cabstand, men with shovels near the kiosque to move the snow,
several mangy dogs in the foreground gnawing a bone, and an élégante,
with her daughter and toy poodle, crossing the street to the
left. The symphonic margins show various scenes from around the
city, a cabby and his dying horse in the streets of Montmartre, the Chauffoirs publics
or braziers with huddled workers, varous footwear on the boulevard des
Italiens, and skating on the Seine at what looks like the pont Neuf...
The place Breda, now place
Gustave-Toudouze, is located in the 9th arrondissement, a bustling
neighborhood in Buhot's time, as it still is today.
(see http://www.cparama.com/forum/paris-rue-breda-henry-monnier-t9112.html for a contemporary postcard view showing the cabstand and various tradesmen and passers-by in the summer.)
The winter of 1879 was
particularly rigorous, with Arctic temperatures, and vast quantities of
snow, as documented by a number of contemporary observers, from the
meteorologists and everyday news to the Impressionist painters