Eugène Delacroix, Tiger lying at the entrance to its Lair, etching

P. 96x148mm., S. 180x270mm.

Tigre Couché à l'Entrée de son Antre

Delteil 12

etching, drypoint, and roulette, circa 1828-30, on fine ivory laid paper, with part of a watermark in Roman capitals, a superb and unique trial proof impression of the 5th state (of 6)*, before letters, with rich burr, yet carefully wiped to reveal fine detail, probably before steel-facing, with good margins, yet somewhat irregular edges, before the first edition, annotated in pencil "Bon à tirer" and signed by L. Dumont lower right, a slight granular printing flaw in the foreground to the right, foxing and light-staining from an old mount, a water stain far lower right, general discoloration and two old gum hinges on the reverse, two pinholes above, well away from the subject, otherwise in good unrestored condition

Provenance: a private Parisian collection


Delacroix devoted great attention to rendering animal form (cf. Sérullaz et al., Dessins d'Eugène Delacroix, 1984) and his early efforts in printmaking reveal a firm commitment to the resolution of technical problems in the graphic treatment of tonal values and line. This plate represents his first attempt to translate the feline figure in this medium.

Whereas the first four working states are quite sketchy, more like exercises in seeking textural effect than finished works, this definitive state is to be counted among his more accomplished realisations in this sense.

It should be noted that this print was never published in Delacroix's lifetime. According to Delteil, Laurent Dumont acquired the plate from Eugène Piot in June 1890, and most of the impressions that we have examined, including that of the Moreau-Nelaton collection (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris) on antique blue-green laid paper, are ostensibly from this edition (to our knowledge the sole edition, about 40 impressions), and are clearly not as fine. The importance of the present proof, although posthumous, is thus to be stressed.

* Delteil identifies six states, although François Fossier notes seven, without explicitly defining them; see the exhibition catalogue De Corot aux Impressionnistes, donations Moreau-Nélaton, Bibliothèque Nationale, 1991