André Derain, Four Bathers in a Landscape, drypoint engraving

Quatre Baigneuses dans un Paysage

Gilbert 36 ( see also Sawyer, p. 26, and Lee, 38)

drypoint engraving, circa 1908*, on yellowish-orange medium-weight simili-japon paper, the exceedingly rare 1st state (of two?**), a fine (and possibly unique?) impression, with rich velvety burr, and several inherent printing irregularities due to expeditive wiping (e.g. the horizontal trace of heavy inking in the lower foreground) that clearly mark its nature as a working proof, signed in pencil by the artist, with good margins, two marked printing creases (of which one extends into the subject upper right), several short tears in the upper margin, two small staple holes beneath the subject, some slight ink spotting on the reverse, otherwise in rather good condition

P. 276 x 198mm., S. 443 x 370mm.

Provenance: the Maurice Gobin collection, with the small MG wetstamp in blue (Lugt 1124a)***

As of 1907-8, Derain's painting renounced vibrant colour for structured form, and at the same time his printmaking relinquished the thick fauvist contour for rich facetted tonal fields of hatching and cross-hatching, building figure and ground as if he were sculpting directly into the plate. The parallel with Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon is clear, as the two had already worked together, and were indeed rivals.

This exceptional working proof reveals an exploratory approach, the planar features but roughed out, as if Derain were feeling his way through uncharted territory. It should be compared with the finished state to get a better idea of his progression.

This print was only editioned in 1913, which further stresses the importance of the present impression.

* The dating of this print is from Eva Gilbert (see her unpublished doctoral dissertation, 1985) on the basis of stylistic criteria in Derain's painting, and accepted by E. Pernoud.

**These states are not developed in any of the known catalogues; there are no impressions of this print in the Bibliothèque Nationale and Gilbert inventories 7 impressions in public collections, all of the definitive state. Furthermore this 1st state impression is annotated by Maurice Gobin as an "Epreuve probablement unique."

***Maurice Gobin was a prominent print dealer and connoisseur with a shop on the rue Lafitte, active until the early 1950s. In this context it should be noted that the impressions bearing his wetstamp come from his own private collection rather than his commercial inventory.