Corot, Cavalier dans les Roseaux, lithograph

S. 212 x 278 mm.

Le Cavalier dans les Roseaux

Robaut 3145, Delteil 22, Melot 22

lithograph, 1871, on fine ivory-yellow wove paper*, the 1st state (of 2), before the addition of the signature, a very fine and delicate impression, printed to the sheet edges, one of the extremely rare trial proofs (Robaut mentions "3 or 4 trial proofs" and rates this state "RRR"; Delteil notes "only a few proofs") before the first and sole 1872 album edition; some slight undulations from the press, a minuscule tear (2 mm) in the upper margin, traces of old hinges on the reverse, otherwise in excellent condition 

Provenance: the Henri J. Delacroix collection, with the HD wetstamp on the reverse (Lugt 3604)

This masterful print depicts a windswept scene in the dunes near Boulogne-sur-Mer, on the North Sea. While staying with Robaut at Douai during the Commune in the spring of 1871, Corot executed a series of 12 lithographs** with the distinctive free handling of his late manner.

It should be noted that the original composition in the present impression is somewhat larger than in the edition (of which Delteil gives the dimensions as 211 x 267 mm, and Melot as 215 x 268 mm, although this may concern the 1st state impression in the Bibliothèque Nationale), the design field having ostensibly been squared off by Lemercier, which is especially visible to the right. The present impression is also much finer than the standard edition, the printing of which is, according to Robaut, "heavier and sparer."

The printing of the present proof in gray ink may well be unique, as the edition is in black (like the other two proof impressions we have seen, that in the BN and another in a private Parisian collection).  Corot used different colours for printing different lithographs in the album, and the present proof seems to be a colour trial.  The ivory-yellow colour of the paper should also support this.

* In view of the fine woven texture in evidence on the reverse, this paper, often confused with chine volant, is more clearly a kind of bulle. It is well known that Corot experimented with a variety of fine papers, even hand-tinting trial proofs in order to induce different atmospheric effects. Whereas the edition was on a light purplish-grey paper, the present 1st state impression is on a fine ivory-yellow wove paper, different from that of the Bibliothèque Nationale (originally in the Alfred Robaut collection).

** Technically speaking an autographie, this term referring to Corot's "original drawings" on lithographic transfer paper.