March 23, 2004
We are delighted to be able to show you this beautiful and unique print from the Rosenwald collection at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. This is the first of four known states with handwritten caption by one of the printers on the upper left hand corner. Obviously, Aubert (the printer) had received the fresh print from Daumier, as usual without text, and sent it to Huart’s home address (see enclosed photograph). The note reads:
” Monsieur Huart is requested to immediately return this letter with the messenger, who will be waiting …. to take it to the printer’s”.
Huart, then working as a journalist for the Charivari, added the following handwritten caption below the image as well as the title of the series “Actualités” and “No” (for number) to be added later by the printer:
L’EAU DU PUIT DE GRENELLE
– Décidément cette eau chaude est très mauvaise à boire.
– Oui, mais il y a beaucoup de petits insectes dedans!
“Water from the springs of Grenelle.
– No question, this warm water tastes awful.
– Yes, but it is so full of little bugs.”
Once Huart had added the legend, he folded the print twice horizontally and returned it to the waiting messenger to take it back to the printer’s shop, in this case Aubert. Once Aubert had received the caption, the printing process could start.
We are not aware of the reason why the printer was in such a hurry to have the messenger wait for Huart’s reply. The drilling of the Grenelle artesian well had started already on December 24, 1833 under Georges Mulot. It was only on February 24, 1841 that the drilling on the corner of rue Valentin Hauy and rue Bouchut proved to be successful and Mulot sent a message to Arago, then Mayor of Paris, announcing : ”Arago, nous avons de l’eau! Mulot” (Arago, we have water! Mulot).
It was not until a month later, on March 21, 1841, that the Charivari published the above lithograph.