Lithograph on cream wove paper, 1861. 560x440 mm; 22x17 3/8 inches. Préaud's first state B (of 2), with the "white bird" lower left and with the black "ink smudge" on the left leg of the striped-tail monkey on the branch lower right, before the transfer to another stone in 1868. Edition of approximately 300 lifetime impressions with these characteristics. Printed by Lemercier, Paris. A brilliant, early and richly-inked impression of this very important lithograph with extremely strong contrasts and all the fine details distinct.
Lifetime impressions, such as the current work, are exceedingly scarce; we have located only 8 other such impressions at auction in the past 30 years. There is also a more common, posthumous edition (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, see lots 129-136).
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 (see below), 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.