Lithograph on two Chine appliqués, 1861. 562x440 mm; 22 1/8x17 3/8 inches (sheet), full margins. Préaud's first state B (of 2), with the "white bird" lower left and before the transfer to another stone in 1868. Edition of approximately 200 lifetime impressions. Printed by Lemercier, Paris. A very good and richly-inked impression of this very important lithograph with extremely strong contrasts and all the details distinct.
Lifetime impressions, such as the current work, are exceedingly scarce; we have located only 10 other such impressions at auction in the past 30 years. There is also a more common, posthumous edition of approximately 800 impressions (printed after the transfer of the subject to another stone).
Despite his technically complex and highly imaginative printed work, the self-taught Bresdin (1822-1885) remained in obscurity and penniless throughout most of his career. Disregarded by many of his contemporaries due to his eccentricity, he was referred to as "le chien-caillou" ("the stone dog"). Some critics and artists, however, recognized and respected his genius, including Victor Hugo and Charles Baudelaire (Bresdin was also Odilon Redon's mentor).
One of the most visionary printmakers since Rembrandt, he was clearly a devotee of the master's work, evidenced both in his early engravings and lithographs of intimate interior genre scenes and by a comparison of the current work. Like Rembrandt's The Angel Appearing to the Shepherds, etching, 1634, Bresdin's tour-de-force lithograph shows a dark landscape rendered by a complex system of densely overlapped lines and varied tonalities. Van Gelder 100; Préaud 29.