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Berthe Morisot  (1841-1895)

Not very familiar with French impressionist etching it took me a while to figure out about these two small small dry point etchings and how they are connected in history. They have in common to be both unsigned prints and were found together amongst the debris of a former large graphics collection that was being dissolved by its new owner: the quite natural faith of most art collections: in time becoming part of new collections. It is a floating world ……….  

“Nourrice Hérodiade”  & “Cygnes et canard” (Pointe sèche)

These two small etchings (they are considered rare gems), happened to be used as illustrations to the rare (edition of 101 numbered copies) of “Poésies” by French poet Stéphane Malarmé (1842-1898). 


The Nude is known as “Nourrice Hérodiade” (King Herod’s nurse) and created by Berthe Morisot herself. Not impossibly depicting the private nurse of her daughter Julie Manet (1778-1966): Berthe Morisot painted the two in her garden. 


The Swans (“Cygnes”) is a (soft ground) etching (one of 6) created by Demetrios Galanis (1879-1966) after an original painting by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) for this rare and limited to 101 copies edition. The other etchings by Galanis were also after drawing or paintings by Berthe Morisot.  She was the impressionist painter, the wife of Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and the mother of their daughter Julie.  

The title "Nourrice Hérodiade” is referring to the poem “La Nourrice” from the cycle “Hérodiade” (publ. 1864-67) by poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898).

“Nourisse Hérodiade”  & “Cygnes et canard” (Pointe sèche)

These two small etchings (they are considered rare gems), both happened to be used as illustrations to the rare (edition of 101 numbered copies) of “Poésies” by French poet Stéphane Malarmé (1842-1898). 


The Nude is titled “Nourisse Hérodiade” (king Herod’s nurse) and created by Berthe Morisot herself. Not impossibly after the private nurse of her daughter Julie (1778-1966): Berthe Morisot painted the two in her garden. 


The Swans (“Cygnes”) is an etching (one of 6) created by Demetrios Galanis (1879-1966) after an original painting by Berthe Morisot (1841-1895) for this rare and limited to 101 copies edition. Other etchings by Galanis were also after drawing by Berthe Morisot.  She was the impressionist painter, the wife of Edouard Manet (1832-1883) and the mother of their daughter Julie.  


 The title "Nouricce Hérodiade” is referring to the poem “La Nourrice” from the cycle “Hérodiade” (publ. 1864-67) by poet Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898).

The 1931 bibliophile edition of “Poésies” appeared long after Berthe Morisot and Mallarmé had died. During their life Stéphane Malarmé had been a close friend of the Manet family. The poem from the cycle one of the selected poems 


Besides Berthe Morisot, Mallarmés Poems inspired many other French graphic artists like: Renoir, Manet, Redon, Whistler, Rops, Dufy and Matisse.

Around the same time, in 1932 another bibliophile edition of Mallarmé’s “Poésies” was published with illustrations (30 etchings) by Henri Matisse (1869-1954). 

Titles of the etchings by Galanis: “Le Basin du Ménil, “Nue assise” (Seated Nude, in red ink),Jardin de Mézy”, “Bord du Lac”, “Les Canard” (which must be the swans, after a well known painting by Morisot) and Bateaux sûr l’étang”. (`A picture of one of them is still missing). 

“Poésies”
Berthe Morisot (1841 - 1895) - Stephane Mallarmé (1842 - 1898).
Stephane Mallarmé and Paul Valery. 

Paris, Les Cent-Une (“The hundred and one”), 1931, limited to 101 copies numbered. Loose as issued in vellum wrappers, complete with chemise and slipcase. It contains: 6 etchings after drawings by Morisot engraved by Demetrios Galanis ("interprétés a la pointe par Galanis”) on Holland Van Gelder paper, and a suite of 5 original etchings composed by Berthe Morison f especially for this portfolio in Japon paper, and a suite of 6 etchings after Morisot by Galanis, three of which printed in Holland Van Gelder paper, and three printed in Japan paper. 



The 5 etchings in “Poésies” by Morisot herself are no-where described or shown together. Some research proved she is known to have created in her career 8 “point sèche” etchings of which I was able to find 7 examples.  No. 8 is still a mystery. 


The originals used in “Poésies” must include: 1: “Nue de dos” (after her painting), 2: “Nourrice Hérodiade”, (probably showing her daughter Julie’s private nurse) and 3: “Julie Manet on a sofa resting her head on her arm”.  The other two remain a puzzle still.

The small etching “Nue de dos” (delicate, intimate) is probably Morisot’s best known etching. It can be found as illustration for “Poésies” but also numbered (edition of 25) copies are known. They fetch serious prices and must be sought after by collectors (and dealers). The original painting happened to be auctioned in 2013 for 337.000 BPS. 


The painting’s provenance: 

Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) Paris, by whom acquired from the above in 1896.

Julie Manet (1878-1966) painter, Paris, by whom acquired from the above.

Julien Rouart (1901-1994) painter, Paris (son of Julie Manet and Ernest Rouart (1874-1942) painter, and thence by descent to the present owner. 

Copies of Morisot’s etchings with visible cancelation or punctuation holes are said to be from an (numbered ?) edition printed by Ambroise Vollard (1866-1939).