In the Slammer
Au Violon (original French title)
Zincograph on tan simili-japon paper.
Reference : Vallotton & Goerg 47.
Published by L. Joly, Paris.
Monogrammed and numbered “N⁰ 88” in pencil.
Prov: Henri M. Petiet, Paris, stamp on the verso (Lugt 5031).
This print is in perfect condition. The "violon" in the title refers to the holding cells of the police station. It is an antiquated expression no longer used in French today.
Félix Vallotton was interested in human interactions, both private and public. In the former it is the intimacy of couples' lives that dominates. These works rarely seem to show the happy moments... which probably reflected a less than happy marriage of his own. In the latter Vallotton's anarchist tendencies often show his inclinations as well. The chaos of society, the irreverence of many people, and in general, the unhappy sides of life dominate. Despite this propensity to see the negative in all aspects of life, there is also a levity in Vallotton's work.
Even as he criticizes the drunken behavior, he pokes fun at the situation. In this composition a man pokes his head out of a manhole to see what the ruckus is all about; a contented butcher stands amused in front of carcasses, looking like he might be the next one to get filleted. And the priceless reprobation of the women in the background, enhanced by their hand gestures, is contrasted by the inertia of male bystanders, hands in pockets, as the policemen break up the brawl.
As social commentary goes, this print by Vallotton is rather amusing.