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Félicien Rops

1833 – 1898

Le Bout du Sillon by Félicien Rops

Le Bout du Sillon   1907

  Etching, soft ground etching, drypoint, mezzotint and aquatint by Albert Bertrand after Félicien Rops, printed in colours.
With Rops’s name in the plate.
Exsteens 859 vii/ix
S 574 x 426 mm; P 398 x 260 mm; I 347 x 237 mm
Outstanding early proof impression, with fresh, unfaded colours. Before the remarque in the margin and prior to the only published edition – rare in this form. The plates for this work were destroyed immediately after the published edition of 130 impressions had been printed.

The Symbolist Belgian artist Félicien Rops had come to Paris in 1862 to study etching with Bracquemond and Jacquemart, the founders of the new Société des Aquafortistes – within six months he had been elected to their committee and within a year had replaced Daubigny on its jury. In the early 1870’s Félicien Rops founded the Société Internationale des Aquafortistes in his native Belgium.

The overriding motivation behind Félicien Rops’s art was his obsession with the beauty and sensuality of women. Rops did not confine his view of sensual beauty to the fashionable ladies of the cities; to Félicien Rops eroticism could be found just as clearly in a peasant worker, often in the most mundane of situations. Le Bout du Sillon (The end of the furrow) is the archetypal Rops depiction of this form of sensuality. As with so many of Félicien Rops’s works, the title is intentionally suggestive. In this state, the finished composition is at its finest, the image having just been completed, but before the marginal remarque was added for printing the first published impressions.

Late in Félicien Rops’s life the Parisian publisher Gustave Pellet approached the artist with the idea of allowing the outstanding engraver and master of aquatint, Albert Bertrand (1854-1912), to make engravings of his works. Rops embraced the idea with great enthusiasm as he approved wholeheartedly of both Bertrand’s artistic manner and technical expertise. The brilliant mixed method prints which Albert Bertrand produced as a result of this union are now amongst the most sought after of all hand-made etchings and engravings both by and after Félicien Rops.

On heavy cream wove paper with full margins and deckle edge. One short repaired nick at extreme left edge of sheet, otherwise very fine condition.