Jean Fautrier

Reclining Woman IV

c.1942, published c.1960–4

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Jean Fautrier 1898–1964
Original title
Femme étendue IV
Etching on paper
Image: 155 × 274 mm
Purchased 1985

Catalogue entry

Jean Fautrier 1897-1964

P77119 Reclining Woman IV c.1942, pub. c.1960-4

Etching 155 x 274 (6 1/8 x 10 3/4) on Vélin d'Auvergne paper 320 x 478 (12 1/2 x 18 13/16); plate-mark 160 x 280 (6 1/4 x 11); printed by Jacques David, Paris and published by Michel Couturier, Paris in an edition of 50
Inscribed ‘Fautrier' b.r., ‘37/50' b.l. and ‘Femme Etendue IV 1942/3' on back top centre in another hand
Purchased from Berggruen & Cie, Paris (Grant-in-Aid) 1985
Lit: Rainer Michael Mason, Jean Fautrier: Les Estampes, Geneva l986, p.102 no.216 repr., as ‘Femme étendue IV'. Also repr: Edwin Engelberts, Jean Fautrier: Oeuvre gravé Oeuvre sculpté, Geneva 1969, no. 1942/3, as ‘Femme étendue IV'

According to Mason it is not known whether Fautrier himself titled this work although it is possible that he may have done. All that is certain is that it was given this title by the time that Engelberts published his catalogue raisonné in 1969, five years after the artist's death.

Engelberts dates the work to 1942 but Mason is less certain about the date. In most cases Fautrier made prints to accompany or to illustrate books but ‘Reclining Woman IV' is an exception. Mason suggests that it may have been intended but rejected by the artist for such a project or, alternatively, that it might have been produced independently (‘Jean Fautrier Peintre Graveur' in Mason 1986, p.189). However, it can be dated with a certain degree of accuracy to 1942 since it shares its subject with ‘La Femme morte' 1941 (Mason 1986, p.126 no.252 repr.) reprinted by Couturier as ‘Femme étendue I', ‘Le Cadavre' 1941 (Mason 1986, p.126 no.253 repr.) reprinted by Couturier as ‘Femme étendue II' and ‘Le Cadavre de la Femme' 1942 (Mason 1986, p.113 no.236 repr.) reprinted by Couturier as ‘Femme étendue III' (the Couturier reprints are reproduced in Mason 1986 beneath the first states). All these works were originally published in Fautrier l'enragé, Paris 1949 with a text by Jean Paulhan. If ‘Reclining Woman IV' was indeed the fourth in the series, and if Engleberts and Couturier were correct in establishing the particular sequence of the images (the numeric order first appears in Engelberts), then ‘Reclining Woman IV' must have been made in or around 1942. Had it been published in Fautrier l'enragé it would most likely have been given a different title, possibly relating to the corpse, since all the other works in this series were originally titled in this way. This suggests that the subject is that of a dead not a reclining woman. It is nevertheless an image of the female nude.

The nude was a subject which Fautrier had treated both before and after the interruption in his career during the thirties. In particular he illustrated two books, L'Espugue, a poem by Robert Ganzo, Paris 1942 (Mason 1986, pp.45-8 nos.74-84 repr.) and Madame Edwarda, a text by Pierre Angélique [Georges Bataille], Paris 1942 (Mason 1986, pp.49-53 nos.85-115 repr.) with nudes of an erotic nature. Those in L'Espugue, in particular, seem close to P77119 (see nos.79, 80, 82 and 84). Other related works are the etchings published in 1975 but drawn in 1944 collectively known as ‘Twelve Letters to Fautrier' (see Mason 1986, nos. 123-43).

The Couturier edition was made sometime between 1960 and 1964. Mason recounts that Jacqueline Jahan remembers that the project of reprinting Fautrier's oeuvre was in progress in 1962 but that Jacques David, the printer, thought that work began in 1960. A note in the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris records that the ‘dépôt légal' was made in 1964 and that Couturier's editions were made in 1962-4.

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, Tate Gallery, London 1988, pp.329-30

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