Lucien Pissarro

Jeune fille


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Lucien Pissarro 1863–1944
Wood engraving on paper
Image: 155 × 64 mm
Transferred from the Library 1982

Catalogue entry

PISSARRO, Lucien 1863-1944
Jeune fille circa 1889, reprinted 1981
Wood engraving 155 x 64 (6 1/8 x 2 1/2) on handmade Hosho wove paper 247 x 153 (9 3/4 x 6); reprinted from the original wood block by Iain Bain and David Chambers, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1981, as part of a portfolio of 29 prints in an edition of 175
Printed initials ‘L.P.’ bottom left
Transferred from Tate Library 1982
Purchased from Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London 1981

Lucien Pissarro, ‘Catalogue de gravures sur bois’, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1905-29, I, no.43 [in yellow-ochre ink]
Alan Fern, ‘The Wood Engravings of Lucien Pissarro with Catalogue Raisonné’, unpublished Ph.D thesis, University of Chicago 1960, no.41
David Chambers, Lucien Pissarro: Notes on a Selection of Wood Blocks Held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1980, p.12, reproduced p.20
Lora Urbanelli, The Wood Engravings of Lucien Pissarro & a Bibliographical List of Eragny Books, Cambridge and Oxford 1994, reproduced [p.73], fig.10
Lora Urbanelli, The Book Art of Lucien Pissarro with a Bibliographical List of the Books of the Eragny Press 1894-1914, Rhode Island and London 1997, p.65, reproduced fig.7

The style of Jeune Fille [Young Girl] is very much in Lucien Pissarro’s early French manner, comparable to Camille Pissarro’s paintings of peasant life from the same period. It is on a larger scale than his later prints, and the drawing and shading is made simply and with few lines. It remained unpublished during his lifetime, but it is noted in the ‘Catalogue de gravures sur bois’ that it was first printed in an edition of twenty. Tate’s version of the design was printed in 1981 for the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, from the original wood block carved by Lucien Pissarro in about 1889 (for a general discussion see the ‘Introduction’). During the reprinting of the image another engraving of a man and a woman was found on the reverse side of the block. This engraving was badly defaced and does not appear in the ‘Catalogue de gravures sur bois’.[1]

There is an earlier wood-engraving in the ‘Catalogue de gravures sur bois’ which dates from before 1886 showing a young girl, similar in appearance and pose to Jeune Fille, with a child on her lap.[2] It is probably based on two drawings of a mother and child in black crayon now in the Ashmolean Museum.[3] The image was taken up again and refined for publication in 1889 when it appeared in Le Courrier français, a popular weekly Parisian journal that ran from 1884-1914, covering art, literature, theatre and current events. It was particularly renowned for its photomechanical reproductions of work by avant-garde artists and Pissarro contributed drawings on a number of occasions. The edition dated 19 May 1889 contains six illustrations by him for a popular song, ‘Une chanson de Clovis à l’Alcazar d’Eté’ [A song by Clovis at the Alcazar d’Eté]. The Alcazar d’Eté was a Parisian café-concert situated on the Champs Elysées. Similar to the establishments immortalised in the work of Manet, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec such as the Moulin Rouge, the Folies Bergère or the Chat Noir, the Alcazar d’Eté offered a variety of entertainments such as singing and comic performances in a café venue. It closed down in the mid-1890s.

One of the vignettes for Le Courrier français, shows a woman seated on a bench surrounded by three children, one of them on her lap. She is clearly the same model and assumes the same pose as the figure in Jeune Fille.[4] It is likely that Pissarro made the drawing for publication in the journal first and then transferred it, photographically or with tracing paper, to a wood block afterwards, making changes to it directly during the cutting process, possibly as a technical exercise for his own benefit. The pose and features of Jeune Fille are almost identical to the published drawing, but there have been alterations in the details of the dress. Also the removal of the child from the woman’s lap has necessitated the addition of her left arm, which appears somewhat awkward and unrealistic in the wood-engraving.

Nicola Moorby
January 2003

[1] Reproduced in David Chambers, Lucien Pissarro: Notes on a Selection of Wood Blocks Held at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1980, p.21.

[2] Lucien Pissarro, ‘Catalogue de gravures sur bois’, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 1905-29, I, no.26.
[3] Ashmolean Museum, Oxford 77.318 and 77.319.

[4] Reproduced in Anne Thorold (ed.), The Letters of Lucien to Camille Pissarro 1883-1903, Oxford 1993, pl.36.

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