Le Concert sur la Plage (Musicians on the Beach)


Jacques Villon (1875-1963) Le Concert sur la Plage (Musicians on the Beach), 1907, etching and aquatint, signed and inscribed ”essai” denoting this a trial proof [also signed and dated in the plate], before the edition of 50. Reference: Ginestet and Pouillon 177, only state. In very good condition, with some printer’s ink markings bottom margin (as befits a trial proof), unobtrusive printer’s crease upper right. Wide margins, 8 3/4 x 7 7/8, the sheet 12 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches. On a heavy cream wove paper.

A particularly fine atmospheric impression, delicately and carefully printed in black/grey ink.

At this time Villon was heavily involved in printmaking (as he was at various points through his career), concentrating on the use of aquatint and sometimes using color. This print is, however, not known in any color version. The reasons seem clear: the print is completely effective in black and white. In this impression we get the sense of a hazy, light-filled beach setting. Villon created the print after making a sketch of the subject on the beach at Treport.

A fascinating perspective on the light of Sur la Plage was given by Villon expert Lucien Goldschmidt, writing of the Villon prints of this period: ”One of the most powerfully moving of these black-and-white proofs is Sur la Plage, in which the sparkling beach scene appears to be transformed by a solar eclipse.”

There has been some discussion of whether this print was made in 1906 or 1907  – The Bibiotheque Nationale has suggested the date 1906, but perhaps they did not notice the very fine print within the plate under Villon’s name: “07”.