The Cathedral: Second Plate

James Ensor (1860-1949), The Cathedral: Second Plate, etching, 1896, signed and dated “1886” in pencil, counter-signed verso, with margins, in very good condition. Reference: Delteil 105, Croquez 7B, Elesh 107, only state. Printed on a simili-Japon paper, with margins, 9 5/8 x 7 3/8 inches.

A fine impression.

Ensor created a cathedral in 1886; it is not known whether the plate for that print was canceled, destroyed, or lost (according to Croquez the first plate was damaged beyond use or restoration when it was on loan), but years later he (apparently) used an impression from that plate to create an entirely new version. The subject is a fantasy inspired by Balzac’s story Jesus Christ in Flanders. This version is slightly smaller than the 1886 version; somewhat less detailed, the sky is clean, a cross is missing on the roof between the two towers, and there are a few other slight changes although, confusingly, Ensor signed and dated the plate “Ensor 1886” at the upper right, and also dated the plate 1886 in pencil.