Yvonne D. de face (Yvonne Duchamp, Full-Face), 1913 proof before steelfacing

Jacques Villon (1875-1963), Yvonne D. de face (Yvonne Duchamp, Full-Face), 1913, drypoint, signed in pencil lower right, and inscribed “ep d’artiste avant ebarbage”. Reference: Ginestet and Pouillon E 281, a proof impression before steelfacing (first state, of 2, see below), in very good condition, on Arches wove paper,21 1/2 x 16 1/4, the sheet 25 1/8 by 23 3/8 inches.

A very fine rare proof impression of this cubist landmark, with the substantial drypoint burr before the drypoint was burnished and the plate was steelfaced.

This is one of the few proofs of Yvonne D. de Face that Villon created before burnishing the drypoint, adding his signature in the plate itself, and steelfacing it.  Another such impression is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  There is also an impression (at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris) in which the bottom third of the print has yet to be completed.

After burnishing of the drypoint, addition of the signature and steelfacing an edition of 28 impressions was printed.  The prints from the edition, though of course still spectacular, lack the richness and depth of the proof impressions.

Innis Howe Shoemaker (Jacques Villon and his Cubist Prints) points out that of Villon’s three monumental drypoint portraits of his sister Yvonne from 1913 the present work is the one in which he used the most radical application of pyramidal construction, which was ultimately derived from his reading of Leonardo da Vinci’s Trattoro della pittura.  Here the figure and ground merge into each other; the separations are created by sets of parallel lines going in different directions, so the segments appear as volumetric planes.  Shoemaker notes:  “In this respect Yvonne de Face surpasses the other two portraits of Yvonne, for Villon has employed a purely graphic technique not only to achieve a clearer integration of figure and space but also to express the idea of Cubist simultaneity: ‘the concurrent and coexisting plurality of points of view organized into a plastic whole'”

Yvonne was the sister of Jacques Villon and the other two Duchamp brothers Marcel Duchamp and the sculptor Raymond Duchamp-Villon (Jacques and Raymond changed their names).