An original drypoint printed in black ink on laid paper bearing a portion of an unidentified watermark. Hand-signed in pencil in the margin lower left Helleu, titled in the plate lower center. A fine impression of the only known state of this extremely scarce drypoint, from an edition of only 10, printed with touches of rich burr throughout. Provenance: bearing an unidentified collection stamp, the initials ”P.H.” in an oval (Lugt 2086), found occasionally on modern etchings such as this, in gray ink verso; Lumley Cazalet Ltd, London. Helleu's art epitomizes the style and elegance of the Belle Époque, those years of languid decadence from the end of the 1880s to the beginning of the First War in France. Helleu had been taught to use drypoint as a medium by James Tissot. The manner in which drypoint line combines stroke and tone in the burr exactly complemented the natural flow of his drawing. During the 1890s his prints were only just starting to gain the fame which was to make him the most admired French portraitist of society women in the first decade of the 20th century. Many of his prints of the 1890s were drawn for his own satisfaction with no intention to make commercial editions. They have a beauty of line, a delicate sensitivity of drawing, a feeling for surface, and a range of stroke from the most ethereal to the most dramatic, which makes them masterpieces of their genre. The poignancy of Alice, deux mois is heightened by the fact that Helleu's daughter Alice did not survive beyond infancy. She was knocked down by a runaway horse in 1898, only two years after her young parents' marriage.
This work is part of a carefully curated selection by noted fine art expert Jennifer McCloskey, who was formerly affiliated with Doyle Gallery in New York and is now based in San Francisco. If you have questions about any of the works in this selection, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.