Lepere: backgammon

Lepere: backgammon

Code: 10026


H: 6.6" (16.7 cm)W: 12.1" (30.8 cm)

$22,000.00 Approx €18739.35, £16000

AUGUSTE LEPÈRE Paris 1849 - 1918 Domme

La Partie de Jacquet (The Backgammon Players).

Woodcut in colors, printed with water-based ink; 1892. Lotz-Brissonneau 238, an extremely fine impression, the colors fresh and superbly balanced (see below); signed with the artist`s red stamp, Lugt 141. From the only edition of 25 impressions. In superb, fresh condition. Provenance: from the personal collection of Sylvan Cole (1918-2005), former director of Associated American Artists Gallery, New York and later owner of Sylvan Cole Gallery, New York.

Literature: Baas and Field, The Artistic Revival of the Woodcut, exhibition catalogue, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1984, cat. no. 14, pp. 46-47.

Auguste Lepère is one of the artists who in the later 19th century removed the woodcut from its role as the preferred medium of magazine illustration to a full participant in the fine arts. This process, presided over by Lepère and Tony Beltrand, the wood engraver, and supported by Roger Marx, the eminent art critic, resulted in a series of remarkable woodcuts in colors by Lepère and others. Crucial to these developments was the interest in Japanese art, Japonisme, in France; while it is not possible to detail this aspect of modernism in French art here, it is clear that Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts were a decisive influence in the development of the woodcut at this time.

Lepère often printed his blocks with water-based pigments; this technique gave a delicate translucency to his colors but it was notoriously difficult to print, and accordingly Lepère often resorted to oil-based pigments, one may suspect, because the public, unaware of the technical difficulties and slow to comprehend the difference of aesthetic effect, was often resistant to the much higher prices of these painstakingly produced works in water-based pigments.

Our woodcut shows Lepère`s wife and son playing backgammon. Field and Baas[1] note that Lepère had difficulties with the printing of this block, as in the contrast between the dark background and the delicate linear structure of the figures, these figures often seemed weak and undefined. In our impression, however, figures, background and foreground seem perfectly balanced. The pensive character of the two figures stands out.

Lepère` s color palette, varying shades of blue-gray, green, brown, salmon and blue, enlivens the image with its chromatic juxtapositions.


167 x 307 mm 6 9/16 x 12 1/8 inches




[1] Jacquelynn Baas and Richard S. Field, The Artistic Revival of the Woodcut in France 1850-1900, exhibition catalogue, University of Michigan 1984, cat. no.14, p. 47.