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CAMILLE PISSARRO Mendiantes.
Color etching and drypoint printed in reddish-orange and black from two plates, with the coloring applied in the manner of a monotype, on antique, cream laid paper, circa 1894. 200x150 mm; 8x6 inches, full margins. Second state (of 2). One of approximately only 5 lifetime impressions printed in colors in both states, there were also approximately 4 lifetime impressions printed in black only. Inscribed "2e état no. 5" in pencil, lower left. A briiliant, richly-inked impression with strong colors and crisp, inky plate edges.
In this impression, Pissarro printed the red pigment, from a second plate, over the black. He applied the red ink as if drawing, to produce dense lines of pattern on the back of the girl's dress as well as translucent areas of wash on the right side of the composition. By 1894, Pissarro had begun experimenting with producing color intaglio prints using several separate plates for each color. His foray into color printmaking was brief and apparently unsuccessful, and he abandoned it after producing only five such prints.
Shapiro notes, "Through a complicated procedure, in which three plates for red, yellow, and blue and a key plate of gray, gray-brown, or black for outline were used, the artist produced several interesting etchings in color. It was extremely difficult to obtain satisfying results when the sheet for every print had to be properly aligned and put thropugh the rollers of the press four times. Since the subtle variations in the regsitration of the plates created different effects of color and atmosphere, each impression printed by Pissarro was unqiue."
Mendiantes employs only two plates but was printed in the manner described above, with similar results given Pissarro's diffculty in the registration of both plates. He further experimented with this subject by applying the red ink in a manner of a monotype, brushing and drawing it on to the surface of the plate rather than rubbing it into the incised lines as with an etching. Not coincidentally, at this same time, Pissarro had installed a small intaglio printing press in his studio and begun experimenting with monotypes, likely acting on the suggestion of Degas, who had been creating monotypes (many of which were highly embellished with color pastels) since the 1870s. In a letter to his son Lucien in 1894, in which he likely described his monotype printmaking, Pissarro wrote, "The press I brought from Delâtre [the Parisian printer] has been installed in the large studio; I am waiting for ink to make some prints. We tried to print with oil color, the effect is astonishing. It gives me the urge to do more etchings." Delteil 110.