Le Cafe du Commerce



Jean-Emile Laboureur (1877-1943), Le Cafe du Commerce, etching, 1913, signed in pencil lower left and numbered lower right 28/35 [also with the signature and date in the plate]. Reference: Godefroy 126, Sylvain Laboureur 126, only state. From the edition of 35; there were also 4 artist proofs. In excellent condition, with full margins and deckle edges, 11 3/4 x 13 1/2, the sheet 15 1/4 x 19 7/8 inches. On a heavy cream/ivory wove paper.

A fine impression of Laboureur’s great Cubist masterpiece, printed with a subtle veil of plate tone.

Provenance: Henri M. Petiet (with his oval ink stamp verso, cf. Lugt 2021a)

Le Cafe du Commerce represents Laboureur’s early adaptation of the cubist idiom to his own purposes – thereby creating a modernist vision that was really all his own. The intersecting planes, the abstracted limbs and features, the triangular and circular shapes are so much intended to express volume, as in the cubism of Picasso and  Braque, as to show the movement, activity, and aesthetic underpinnings of life as he saw it here, in a cafe in Nantes, at the place du Commerce. Le Cafe represents a kind of high moment for a certain decorative direction that cubism and modernism was to take. It set the standard for modernist art that did not adhere to the rigid formulations of analytic cubism but instead capitalized on its development for stylistic purposes. As Marcel LeComte noted when describing Le Cafe in a catalog of Laboureur prints: “Piece cubiste, capitale dans l’oevre de l’artiste.”