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Jean-Émile Laboureur

1877 – 1943

Courses à Longchamp by Jean-Émile Laboureur

Courses à Longchamp   1938

  Original engraving and drypoint.
Inscribed in pencil.
Sylvain Laboureur 534 iv/vi
S 372 x 470 mm; I 350 x 450 mm
Rare early proof, prior to any edition, inscribed in pencil with title and the words “ép. d'essai”. Very fine impression with crisp line. One of only 15 unnumbered proofs printed in the fourth state of the plate. Prior to the artist’s engraved monogram and before the plate was steel-faced for publication.

One of the most famous of Jean-Émile Laboureur’s large plates, Courses à Longchamp is the perfect embodiment of his unique and highly refined engraving style. Initially inspired by the concepts of the Nabis and by the simple, panoramic spatial arrangement of Japanese prints, J.E.Laboureur came into contact with Cubist ideals in Paris in 1913. Cubism was to have a profound and enduring effect upon his style. An engraver of the greatest technical excellence, Laboureur began to apply Cubist concepts of style to his engravings, concentrating upon the angular treatment of form as of paramount importance.

Unlike many of his earlier engravings, this large design was conceived as a complete composition, rather than in separate interlinked parts. A painter-printmaker of prolific output, J.E.Laboureur had made numerous sketches and preparatory gouache paintings which relate to this engraving as early as 1902 and 1909. It was not until about 1934 that he began to make studies specifically for this engraving and, after three years, he negotiated a contract to execute this plate for the French state. The engraving was finally completed in 1938 and the plate was acquired by the French Government for 25,000 francs.

This elaborate engraving displays, above all, the artist’s superb sense of composition. His extraordinary treatment of space, novel and selective use of cross-hatching, and masterly handling of line have united to produce a truly harmonious composition, representing the culmination of many years’ work.

Courses à Longchamp has always been one of J.E.Laboureur’s most popular engraved works – it is the quintessential example of the artist’s highly individual style, displaying the clear linear elegance for which this outstanding original printmaker has become renowned.

On cream wove paper with small margins around the image on all sides. One short repaired tear and minor defects in lower outer margin only, otherwise very good condition.