Pierre Soulages

Etching No. 2


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Pierre Soulages born 1919
Etching and aquatint on paper
Image: 380 × 553 mm
Purchased 1985

Display caption

Soulages first exhibited large paintings in this style in 1947. His work is generally described as a form of 'Gesture' painting because the heavy brushstrokes which describe calligraphic patterns on the surface of the canvas reflect the physical movement of the artist's body. As in this print he customarily combines black with the controlled addition of primary colours.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry

Pierre Soulages born 1919

P77116 Etching No.2 1952

Etching 380 x 553 (15 x 21 3/4) on Vélin Arches paper 502 x 661 (19 3/4 x 26); plate-mark 382 x 556 (15 1/16 x 21 7/8); printed and published by Lacourière, Paris in an edition of 100
Inscribed ‘Soulages' below image b.r. and ‘14/100' below image b.l.
Purchased from Galerie Lahumière (Grant-in-Aid) 1985
Lit: Soulages: Eaux-fortes, lithographies 1952-1973, Paris 1974, p.36

Soulages was encouraged to try etching by Madame Lacourière (wife of the printer) who had been inspired by the view of Soulages' paintings seen through the window of the Galerie Carré, Paris. In 1951 he was persuaded to visit Lacourière's studio and his first etchings date from the following year. P77116 is the artist's second editioned print.

In technique and style P77116 is clearly an early work. It preceded Soulages' innovations in the biting of his plates which produced the deeply impressed and distinctively shaped prints of the later 1950s. According to an account given by the artist to Christian Labbaye (Soulages 1974, p.19), the two earliest etchings that he produced were very closely allied with his paintings of the time, whereas with practice and increased confidence the later etchings realised characteristics distinct and special to the etching process.

In P77116 the main compositional elements are printed in black, and the background combines a range of greys with white, and four distinct areas of red.

Published in The Tate Gallery 1984-86: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions Including Supplement to Catalogue of Acquisitions 1982-84, 1988, p.456

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