A fine proof impression falling between Arwas' fourth and fifth states, in which the image is complete but prior to the reduction of the size of the plate, apart from the regular edition of 130, one of only ten hors commerce impressions. One of twenty plates illustrating the Eugène Romero book Faune Parisienne, published by Gustave Pellet, Paris, 1901; printed by Philippe Renouard, Paris. Catalogue reference: Arwas A189; Exteens 166. Provenance: Ex-collection Fred Feinsilber, Paris.
Louis Legrand was a master of the aquatint technique. Legrand also painted and worked in pastel, but is considered a master of monochromatic aquatint. Legrand was born in Dijon, France in 1861. Until the age of twenty he worked as a bank teller while studying at the Dijon Ecole des Beaux Arts. After his arrival in Paris he began studying etching and engraving with Felicien Rops. His first commission was four etchings for Les PremièresIllustrées in 1884. This was the beginning of his apprenticeship as an illustrator. In 1887 he joined the Courrier Francais , a publication known for its political commentary, cynical humor and erotic overtones. This led to his incarceration on obscenity charges. In May of 1891 Legrand’s illustrations of cancan dancers for Gil Blas Illustré brought him instant celebrity. An unprecedented 60,000 copies sold out immediately. Legrand was persuaded to etch the compositions and these were published in 1892 in a book titled Le Cours de Danse Fin de Siecle (Turn of the Century Dance Classes).
After a trip to Brittany Legrand created fourteen lithographs of Breton daily life. These works were published by Gustave Pellet who also published Lautrec’s work. The collaboration between Legrand and Pellet resulted in some 300 works and a lifelong friendship. After the series on the cancan Legrand turned to the ballet. He created two wonderful albums , Les Petites du Ballet (1893) and La Petite Classe(1908). These works portrayed the activity behind the performances. Legrand never drew the actual performance.
His last major work was a series of etchings, aquatints and drawings to illustrate Francis Caro’s text Elles. This was published in 1931. Legrand died in 1951 in total obscurity. It is important to note that Legrand preceded Lautrec and others in portraying and publishing the scenes of Parisian nightlife. The renewed appreciation of turn-of-the- century art has brought about the realization of Legrand’s contributions.
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.