Vieille Femme (original French title)
Drypoint, etching, and aquatint on laid paper.
Reference: Tabanelli 43.
From the total edition of 40 in the second and final state.
Signed in pencil.
This is an amazingly poignant early portrait by the intaglio master. Shortly after arriving in Paris, no longer living a life as sheltered, Chahine chose street life as a subject. In drypoint, aquatint and etching he depicted the downtrodden, and candid scenes of the life on the harsh streets of the capital. The old lady stands out, her coat and dress vigorously delineated and darkly inked, so as to stand out against the lighter background. Chahine depicts her resting for a moment, away from the bustle, one hand leaning on a wall. She keeps a watchful eye over her surroundings. It seems the other eye is closed; perhaps permanently. There is dignity in this sculptural figure. The artist poetically leaves the narrative wide open. The viewer gets to fill in the lifetime of existence that precede this moment.