April 6, 2005

An interesting observation has been brought to our attention by Mr. H. Schrank of New York. He owns a “Modèle Bouvenne” of one of the prints from the Caricaturana Album and noticed that the final colored version used for the Album does not adhere to the color proposals of Bouvenne. The most apparent difference in Mr. Schrank’s “modèle” is the green background whereas the background of the final version is yellow.

Edouard Bouvenne was an artist in Daumier’s time who produced a number of “color models” or color proofs of certain prints, mainly from the Caricaturana series depicting the Robert Macaire theme. The assumption was that these “color proposals” would be used by the publisher to have the albums hand colored according to Bouvenne’s suggestions. However, most of the color prints of which we have seen Bouvenne models differ considerably from Bouvenne’s proposals. What might be the reason? Were Bouvenne’s proposals really meant to be color proposals for the Aubert publishing house or did he pursue a different purpose? Commercially, it made little sense for Aubert to pay an artist for color suggestions without using them for the final print version.

Another question mark arises from the fact that Bouvenne wrote on the margins of his “models” annotations like: “Modèle de la Grande Collection de 1839 paru a 10 8bre 1838″ (in the H. Schrank collection) and “ Modèle de la Grande Collection 1839, Paris, le 15 8bre, 1838.” (in the British Museum, London). We are not aware of a “Great Collection of 1839” as mentioned by him. It seems hardly logical that this is a collection prepared for Aubert to appear later in a colored album. Were the models commissioned by a collector to be shown in an exhibition in 1839? So far, we have not found the answer to this point, which will find its place among the other numerous open questions in Daumier’s oeuvre.