July 28, 2005
As most Daumier collectors know, Daumier produced some 4000 lithographs and approximately 1000 wood engravings. The latter appeared mainly in newspapers such as Le Charivari, Le Monde Illustré and many others, as well as in book publications. Unknown to many, the editor and publisher Jules Meynial succeeded in purchasing some 34 original wood blocks. In 1920, well after the death of Daumier, he published with the help of the printer F.L. Schmied an album containing several folders. They displayed 34 large wood engravings which had previously appeared in Le Monde Illustré. He added 2 more wood engravings after watercolors by Daumier: the “Fauteuils d’Orchestre”, was originally presented in 1878 at the Galerie Durand-Ruel exhibition and the engraving was done by Lepère; “Les Amateurs d’Estampes” which is part of the Louvre collection, was engraved by Schmied. The only print missing in the Meynial collection which had previously appeared in “Le Monde Illustré” was “affreux macadam” (Bouvy 933).
In total 100 albums were produced, of which 25 numbered 1/25 to 25/25 on China paper (chine appliqué) and 75 numbered 1/75 to 75/75 on Japan paper. The China paper edition was offered to various museums and some few private collectors, while the 75 Japan paper edition was distributed to collectors at random.
The prints are before any text (avant la lettre) and the print quality is excellent. These prints can be considered as being extremely rare and will be rather difficult to find on the market, especially those on China paper. After the printing process, the wood blocks were “whitened” in order curtail any future reprints. As one will note in the photographs below, the woodblocks were supplied (and numbered) by Kieszling, a company with offices in 16, rue Charlemagne in Paris (ref. Remi Blachon, 2005) supplier of artists’ woodblocks.
For comparison we are showing here the following four photographs of DR 6033/EB 954:
Front of the original whitened wood block (from a Swiss private collection)
Verso of the same woodblock, showing the stamps of “Le Monde Illustré”, Kieszling and an export stamp of the Paris customs office
Print as it appeared in “Le Monde Illustré”
Print as published in the Meynial edition