Camille Pissarro, Rue Damiette, Rouen, etching

La Rue Damiette à Rouen

Delteil 52, Leymarie 52

etching with aquatint, 1884, on heavy cream-yellow wove paper, a superb impression of the extremely rare first state (of two)*, before the plate was extensively reworked with a scraper to lighten it, with good margins, a faint inky fingerprint in the lower left corner, some slight surface soiling, otherwise in remarkably fine and fresh condition


P. 195x148mm., S. 280x200mm.

Provenance: the Jean Cantacuzène collection, with the "JC" wetstamp on the reverse (Lugt 4030), and the Henri M. Petiet collection, with the "HMP" wetstamp on the reverse (not cited in Lugt)

According to Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro, "The Rouen series is one of the most engaging he ever did, depicting the narrow crowded streets of the old city crowned by its beautiful cathedral." (The tour shown here is not however the cathedral, but rather the Tour Couronné of the Abbaye de Bénédictins Saint-Ouen.)

It should further be noted that this particular print is significantly discussed by Shikes and Harper, who emphasize (pages 188-189) the importance of early proofs in appreciating its subtle and rich tonal values.**

The present proof indeed shows rich velvety blacks that are notably lacking in the greyish second state. Furthermore, the use of "aquatint" here, or rather the deeply shaded bitten tone achieved by Pissarro, seems to be a directly applied and stopped-out acid wash, a novel technique that he ostensibly learned from Degas, and which is evident in a number of his etchings.

* Delteil knew of only two impressions of this state, both apparently annotated by the artist, the present impression thus being the third. It is therefore of the utmost rarity.

** Ludovic-Rodo Pissarro, "The Etched and Lithographed Work of Camille Pissarro", in Print Collector's Quarterly IX, pp. 275-301, 1922; Ralph Shikes and Paula Harper, Pissarro: His Life and Work, 1980