Roderic O'Conor

Roderic O'Conor, Deux Femmes de Profil dans un Paysage, lithograph

Deux Femmes de Profil dans un Paysage

[Two Women in Profile in a Landscape]

Johnston n° 42

lithograph, circa 1883, a very fine impression of this rare print, the artist's only lithograph, with subtle and sweeping tonal values, printed in bistre, on cream wove paper, with good though slightly irregular margins, a slight unobtrusive (2mm) indentation in the upper right margin, hinged on a mount at the top of the sheet (verso), overall in quite excellent condition

P. 192x162 mm; S. 335x205 mm.

The two Breton women, barely distinguishable, are huddled in their cloaks as they wend their way across the barren Landes.  The windswept landscape and the two spare figures are caught up in an identical movement by the austere graphic rhythm of the scene.  There is almost a spectral quality to the image.  One woman seems to have clasped her head in her hands; is she distraught, lamenting?  The taller woman is bending over her, hand raised, finger pointing; is she reproachful, admonishing?

The graphic handling is quite synthetist in the rough-hewn purity of O'Conor's singular style, which adds effectively to the troublesome and menacing nature of the scene.  Johnston (1999) insists on the print's symbolic import:

"deux mystérieux personnages encapuchonnés marchent dans un paysage désolé, courbés sous la force du vent.  Leur posture est volontairement reprise en écho dans la forme torturée de l’arbre derrière eux.  Le parallèle entre les personnages et l’arbre est à la fois symbole de leur dépendance vis à vis de la nature et de la difficulté de vivre face aux éléments sur la côte du Pouldu." 

["two mysterious hooded figures walk in a desolate landscape, bent under the force of the wind.  Their posture deliberately echoes the tortured form of the tree behind them.  The parallel between the figures and the tree is both a symbol of their dependence on nature and the difficulty of living in the face of the elements along the coast of Le Pouldu.]

We have only seen three impressions of this rare lithograph on auction in the past 20 years:  Jean-Louis Picard, Paris (26 March, 1996), Sotheby's London (9 May, 2007), and Whyte's, Dublin (4 March, 2013). 

We have also been able to locate two impressions held in French public collections:

  -  Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris; see

  -  Musée des Beaux-Arts, Rennes; see