La Maison Enchantée, (Enchanted House)

bresdinmaisonenchanteeRodolphe Bresdin (1822-1885), La Maison Enchantée, (Enchanted House), lithograph transferred from etching (report sur pierre), 1871, [signed and dated on the front ledge of the house, in the plate], on yellowish chine appliqué, in good condition (with wide margins, but folded at the sides about 2 1/2 inches). Reference: Van Gelder 135 II, from a stated edition of 110. 6 7/8 x 9 5/8, the sheet 11 1/2 x 18 1/2 inches.

A fine clear impression of this rarely encountered print.

Provenance: R. E. Lewis, San Francisco; C.J. and M. Larson Collection, Fort Worth, Texas;

Alexis Hubert Rouart (1839-1911) (Lugt 4898, also cf. Lugt 2187a; his purple stamp recto lower left toward the margin). Rouart was a distinguished collector of French 19th Century prints.

Bresdin made La Maison Enchantée as an etching, although no proofs are known of the print in its first state etching form. He transferred the etching to a lithographic stone, and there are some impressions of the first state lithograph known. Bresdin then re-worked the etching plate, creating two dark trees near the left margin, a tall tree upper right, and adding a building/tower in front of the right part of the slanting roof at the upper left of the composition. He made a few etchings of this, then had the master printer Lemercier transfer it to a stone and an edition of the lithograph was printed.

A further small posthumous edition (25-50 impressions) was also printed, but this re-strike is poorly printed with a large black blemish on the roof of the house. Although La Maison Enchantée is said to have been published in an edition of 110 during Bresdin’s lifetime, we have encountered only a few impressions on the market in the past several decades, most of which were from the posthumous edition.

No printmaker in history was more obsessive in creating details than Bresdin, which is why it is so perplexing that he added the tower to the upper left without first burnishing the roof, so the roof can be clearly seen through the tower. In addition, it is curious that he created this print in etching, then had it transferred to stone, thereby creating an astonishingly detailed and closely worked lithograph.  Perhaps he did not feel the copper could withstand multiple printings.

La Maison Enchantée is not only enchanted, it is also heavily populated, with figures on the roof and in the windows, and a managerie of farm animals as well as a child and a not so Little Bo Peep figure in the foreground.