JACQUES VILLON (1875-1963)
JACQUES VILLON (1875-1963)
1 More
JACQUES VILLON (1875-1963)

Portrait de jeune femme

JACQUES VILLON (1875-1963)
Portrait de jeune femme
drypoint, on laid Rives BFK watermark Eug. Delâtre, 1913, signed in pencil, numbered 21/30 (according to Ginestet & Pouillon, impressions were variously numbered out of 26, 30 or 32), with margins, framed
Image: 21 5/8 x 16 ¼ in. (550 x 413 mm.)
Sheet: 25 x 18 5/8 in. (635 x 473 mm.)
Ginestet & Pouillon E 282
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Williams College Museum of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts; The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, 5 May-14 October 1984, no. 212, p. 160; pl. XV, p. 60 (illustrated)

Brought to you by

Lindsay Griffith
Lindsay Griffith Head of Department

Lot Essay

Jacques Villon (born Gaston Duchamp), already an established illustrator and etcher working in color aquatint, developed his skill in handling the drypoint medium in 1904 and 1905, when he made fashionable portraits in the manner of Paul Helleu’s drypoints. A more personal style evolved in such works as the Renée series of drypoints (1911), in which he depicted the adolescent sitter with balloon- like luminousness. In that same year Villon came into contact with a group of Cubist artists that included Gleizes and Metzinger and began to paint in a new style — essentially realistic, but with the images broken into faceted planes. It is in this modified Cubist style that he made a series of oi! studies of his younger sister, Yvonne Duchamp, seated in an armchair with a book resting on her lap. Concurrently, the artist depicted Yvonne in several prints, among them this large drypoint.
Portrait of a Young Woman is based quite closely, even in its size, on the 1912 oil sketch Study for Young Woman (Fogg cat. 35; Cincinnati private collection). In each medium Villon portrayed in a recognizable fashion the sitter's head and her pose, leaning forward with right hand resting on her left forearm. The print, however, goes beyond a reproduction of the painting, pursuing the Cubist aesthetic in a satisfyingly graphic manner.
In keeping with the precepts of Cubism, Villon concentrated on the central part of the image, suggesting the three-dimensionality of the head and the essential outline of the back. The remainder of the figure and its setting become more diffuse and flatten out toward the edges, relating more closely to the two-dimensional picture surface.
The image is built up of many angular, shifting planes or facets, much like a relief map of a mountain range or a mass of irregular pyramids. The direction of the hatching defines the orientation of the planes. Each facet is composed of parallel lines incised with a drypoint tool manipulated so as to achieve a range of values from light to dark, depending on the depth of the line and the distance between lines. Villon was a master at handling the point so as to raise burr in greater or lesser degrees; the lines with the most burr retain large amounts of ink along the burr and the Surrounding surface of the plate.
In his use of drypoint Villon is far more vigorous than either Picasso or Braque in their Cubist prints of 1910-1911. The hatched lines in Portrait of a Young Woman evoke broad brushstrokes, while the various tonalities suggest color. Whether seen from afar as the lively play of light over faceted forms or close at hand so that each spiky line can be read alone or as part of its grouping, Villon’s print is an outstanding example of his printmaking skills and a herald of his mature graphic style.
Sue W. Reed, The Modern Art of the Print: Selections from the Collection of Lois and Michael Torf, p. 60

More from A Graphic Dialogue: Prints from the Collection of Lois B. Torf

View All
View All