Paul Signac

Paul Signac, Les Démolisseurs, lithograph, 1896

Les Démolisseurs

Kornfeld & Wick 15

lithograph, 1896, on Van Gelder laid paper, a very fine impression with full margins (deckle edges above and below), the very rare second state (of 4)*, the composition complete, with the added title (but before the addition of the publisher's address), and prior the sole edition, which appeared in the October 1896 issue of Les Temps Nouveaux;  the lithographic stone imprinting still appears sharp (this print has not been cleaned), several short (millimetric) tears at the bottom sheet edge, and slight surface soiling and unobtursive handling creases in the far margins, otherwise in very good condition

L. (with lithographic title) 518x358 mm.  S. 564x452mm.

Provenance: a private Parisian collection

This important print attests Signac's political commitment to the anarchist cause during the Troisième République, along with Camille Pissarro, who also published a large lithograph** in Les Temps Nouveaux the same year.  Contrary to Pissarro's contribution of an everyday country scene of peasant women bearing faggots of kindling, Signac builds a monumental allegory in a forceful composition showing demolition workers diligently dismantling the old world order so as to found it anew, symbolized by the rising sun in the background.Paul Signac, Le Démolisseur, oil on canvas, between 1897 and 1899 (Musée d'Orsay)

Signac had already foreshadowed the subject in an article,  Variétés. Impressionnistes et révolutionnaires (published anonymously in La Révolte in June 1891), which evoked taking a pickaxe taken to the old social edifice :

                    "solide coup de pioche [donné] au vieil édifice social qui craque"

And he thought so much of this composition that he began working on a large painting the following year (right, now in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris), which he kept in his atélier until his death in 1935.***

* Kornfeld and Wick specify, "Tirage à quelques rares épreuves..."; there is only one known impression of the first state.

** See,%20Porteuses%20de%20Fagots,%20lithograph.html

*** See Bertrand Tillier, La Commune de Paris, révolution sans image?,  Seyssel, 2004   There is also an eloquent analysis of this picture and the historical significance of the anarchist movement in France at the time by Richard Thompson.  See