National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 19, 1972

Annual Index
Author & Subject

Cézanne, Vollard, and Lithography: The Ottawa Maquette for the "Large Bathers" Colour Lithograph

by Douglas W. Druick

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Appendix: A 

It was not exceptional for the prints which Vollard published at this time to exist in more than one state. Furthermore, the dealer was evidently sensitive to the collectors' interest in states. Thus in addition to the regular album containing twenty-two prints, Vollard offered two sets of his 1896 publication complete with trial proofs. Bach contained more than 100 prints. (17) Since there were only two such albums offered, however, it seems logical to assume that relatively few impressions were pulled of the non-definitive states.

There are apparently relatively few impressions of the first state of the Small Bathers. (18) Moreover, the two states apparently follow different maquettes (cf. text, p. 18). Both these factors would seem to indicate that for some reason the first state of the print was not considered successful and that this motivated the execution of the second state.

The Large Bathers seems to be an exceptional case for two reasons: both states exist in large editions (19) and both follow the same maquette. The latter fact makes it clear that the new set of colour stones for the second state was not prompted by a change in the artist's intention or the decision of publisher or printer to follow another maquette. Certainly the market did not motivate a second edition. Vollard sold very few impressions of the Large Bathers. Most of the impressions remained in the possession of Vollard and Clot, being dispersed only after the Second World War. (20) Why there are, then, two states of the print remains a problem.

It has been thought that the connoisseurs disliked the addition of the inscription in the lower right margin and that Vollard decided to print a new edition without it. (21) Were this true, the decision would nevertheless not have involved changing the colour stones. Similarly the opinion that the impressions without the inscription represent trial proofs is not defensible. It is highly unlikely that such a large number of trial proofs would have been pulled.

Bach state has, generally speaking, a strong and weak characteristic. In that which I believe to be the first state, the colour is often opaque and muddy. However, the fidelity to the brush work is remarkable (fig. 17). In the second state, while the colour is, in general, considerably more transparent and fresher, the colour areas lack the clear articluation characteristic of the first state (fig. 17). The sense of the artist's brushwork is lost and with it the clearly stated spatial recession established in the ground area of both the Ottawa maquette and the first state.

To what extent these phenomena are interrelated is seemingly impossible to determine with any certainty. Similarly with the evidence available it would be difficult to determine whether, in fact, the artist, printer or publisher preferred one state to the other. In view of the fact that it has greater affinities with the second state of the Small Bathers, (22) and in the absence of stronger evidence to the contrary, it is difficult to imagine that the state which most closely follows the details of the maquette is not the first state. (23) This was, in fact, the state of the print chosen for the twentieth Exposition des peintres-graveurs at the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris, in 1933. (24) Within this exhibition, the Large Bathers occupied an important place. As Vollard was still alive, he was presumably consulted in the selection and one must assume that the dealer considered this state at least the equal of the other, and may have, indeed, regarded it as the definitive state. It is, therefore, untenable to argue that the second state was undertaken to improve upon the colour of the first state.

With the death of Clot's son several years ago, there may have disappeared the last source of accurate information concerning the functioning of the workshop. Clues to the problem may have been found among the impressions which comprised part of the Clot estate, some in various degrees of completion. The estate has, however, been broken up and no record exists of its contents. With our knowledge that Vollard undertook more projects than he could carry out, it is possible to suggest simply that the second state of the print may have been executed in conjunction with another publication subsequently abandoned. Until new evidence comes to light, however, the question of the two states will remain something of a mystery.

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