Drypoint, 1894-95, on laid paper, with watermark MBM, an extremely rare proof before steel-facing, printed with rich burr and subtle plate tone, the full sheet with a deckle edge at right, in good condition; together with a copy of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, L'Oeuvre Gravé et Lithographié, Catalogue raisonné by Loys Delteil (2)
Plate 116 x 82mm. (4 1/2 x 3 1/2in.);
Sheet 353 x 225mm. (13 7/8 x 8 7/8in.)
Framed Size: 25H x 19W inches
Le Chapeau Épinglé (The Pinned Hat) was a favourite subject for Renoir and he produced several versions in different media including pastel, oil, etching and lithography, one of which is offered in lot 8. The models were Berthe Morisot's daughter, Julie Manet and her cousin Jeanne Gobillard. Renoir had made a study of the girls whilst on holiday with Morisot's family which formed the basis for this image.
This is an extremely rare drypoint of the subject, with rich burr and square corners to the plate, indicating an impression before steel-facing. Neither Delteil nor Stella were aware of any impressions before steel-facing. Stella refers to this image as an etching, presumably as he had only seen impressions printed after the plate was steel-faced for inclusion in various publications, such as Manet and the French Impressionists and Die Impressionisten by Théodore Duret.
Prior to this impression appearing at auction, only impressions taken after the plate was steel-faced have come to the market. L'Institut d'histoire de l'art and La Bibliotèque nationale de France in Paris have an impression listed as a drypoint, though the drypoint is not as strong in comparison with this example.
It is a wonderful example of the artist's command of the technique, creating the sfumato lines to give a soft, delicate quality to the subject. The composition showing the simple act of fixing a hat is crafted to draw the viewer in. There is a sense of mystery in the fact that Julie's face is obscured from view, focussing our attention on this small act, which highlights the friendship between the two girls and the expertise of the artist.