circa 1882

Mouette (original French title)

Graphite, crayon, gouache, and ink on olive-green laid paper.

Preparatory drawing for the etching titled Les Mouettes, which is regarded as one of the artist’s most important etchings, for its compositional strength. The birds meld with the sea below. And the Japanese influence of this etching is palpable. Drawings by Bracquemond are exceedingly scarce. Only a handful have come up for auction in the past few decades. Two other preparatory drawings on similar paper exist and are found in the collection of the Petit Palais, musée des Beaux-arts de la Ville de Paris (click here and here to compare). These were acquired by the institution in 1907. How and why this one managed to stay in private hands is a bit of a mystery.

This magnificent drawing shows Bracquemond’s amazing finesse as a draftsman. This is the main bird in the etching composition. Not only does he shade the bird exactingly with crayon crosshatching. He also indicates with white gouache highlights areas where a glimmer of light will have to be refracting off the sheen of the feathers in the etched composition. He does so on the lower aft wing’s feather tips. He also details lines exactingly, including in the bird’s feet in ink and along the edges of the wing with fine Conté.

Sheet size: 7 ⅛ x 11 ⅛ inches. The gull itself measures about 6 ½ inches from wingtip to wingtip.

Two small areas of paper thinness, one under the tail feathers, one under the forward wingtip.

7 1/8 x inches