Blue Serpent – The Colored Plate, and the Black Plate


Andre Masson (1896-1988), Blue Serpent, 1957, 2 plates, 1) etching and aquatint in colors, signed, dated (30/7/61) and  inscribed “pour Louis Broder epreuve d’artiste.” Reference: Saphire and Cramer, p. 288 no. 7. In very good condition, on an olive wove paper, with wide margins, 8 1/8 x 6 3/4, the sheet 12 7/8 x 9 3/4 inches; 2) the black etching plate, before colors, also signed in pencil lower right and inscribed as above to Louis Broder, in very good condition printed on a cream laid paper, the sheet 12 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches.

Both fine fresh impressions, the first (shown above) with the colors vivid, working well against the backdrop of an unusual olive colored paper. This was printed using a succession of printings,  first a black plate, then colors (and has the tiny pin marks used for registration, lining up the plate against the already printed image during the printing process); the second impression is printed in a dark brownish/black ink (see below).

Louis Broder published a series of books illustrated by Masson. This rare print was intended as Print One from an unpublished book, Les Poems de Saint-Pol Roux.  A total of five prints were contemplated for the book, and although the book was never published (and the text has never been discovered), the prints were published in very small numbers. These are each artist’s proof impressions, given by Masson to Broder.

Andre Masson, influenced early in his career by cubism and other modernist movements eventually became best known as a Surrealist, but like many artists who worked in that genre he moved in and out of the movement, eventually veering away from it. It would be a mistake to categorize Masson narrowly as belonging to a particular school – he was influenced by cubism early in his career, experimented with automatic drawing, created much erotic work, also some political art - but it is safe to say that over a long career he was among the most influential, productive and successful of 20th Century artists.

The black plate - etching before aquatint and color.