Paris: Au Bureau du Charivari, 1840. Item #05550
Sixty-Six Lithographed Plates by Gavarni
"Stevedores" at the Carnival of Paris
GAVARNI [pseudonym of Guillaume Sulpice Chevallier]. Les Débardeurs. Album Comique par Garvarni. Paris: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant & Petit Journal pour Rire. [Chez Bauger], [1840-1842].
Three large quarto volumes (13 1/4 x 10 inches; 337 x 253 mm.). Sixty-six numbered lithographed plates. Plates printed by Aubert & Cie. Mixed states of the plates as per Armelhault & Bocher. The first forty-four plates with some occasional marginal staining (not affecting images), some light foxing affecting just a few plates.
Publisher's printed green paper wrappers with original? glassine wrappers. Front wrappers of parts 1 & 2 with some minor discoloration on foredge. Overall an excellent example - the first that we have seen in the original printed wrappers.
A series of sixty-six lithographs, of which nine first appeared in other journals (eight in La Caricature (plates 21, 23, and 24 under the title “Souvenirs du Carnaval” and 32, 44, 49, 54, and 61 under the title “Les Débardeurs”) and one (plate 58) in La Mode) prior to the publication of the entire series in Le Charivari from 19 January 1840 to 5 February 1842.
“In [Les Débardeurs]...a series of sixty-six lithographs published in Le Charivari between 1840 and 1843, Gavarni depicts a variation on the most famous of the costumes he designed for the masquerade balls, the débardeur [stevedore]. The braided wig, loose shirt, black velvet trousers fastened with brass buttons and tied with a fringed sash are derived from the working costume of the longshoreman or stevedore, who unloaded the barges that traveled up the Seine to Paris. As Nancy Olsen points out [in Gavarni: The Carnival Lithographs], the majority of Gavarni’s carnival lithographs reflect his interest in the small groups that drift away from the crowd as a consequence of the romantic liaisons that preoccupied many of the participants at a masked ball. Intrigue was the name of the gave, and the information being conveyed in this scene comes in all probability from an agent provocateur” (Beatrice Farwell, The Charged Image: French Lithographic Caricature 1816-1848, p. 88).
“This is the most considerable of the several series of lithographs devoted by Gavarni to the balls which were a passion with him. He was an organizer and patron of the more elegant, and he found the popular balls at the Opera and elsewhere an attractive subject for his designs. Théophile Gautier, who believed that at this period Parisian balls had virtually ‘effaced the former carnival of Venice,’ called Gavarni ‘their depicter and historian.’ As dancers throw themselves into their round of pleasure, ‘a man stands with his back against a pillar; he watches, he listens, he observes.’ And the following day on stone ‘he lends his own wit to all the masks, perhaps stupid in themselves; he sums up in a profound word the chit-chat of the foyer; he translates into a pleasant legend the hoarse excitement of the hall.’ (Quoted by Lemoisne, I, 120)” (Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book).
Such elements have made Gavarni's carnival lithographs among his finest, most famous and desired works of art.
Armelhault & Bocher, nos. 486-542, 307-309 (plates 21, 23, and 24), 259-263 (plates 44, 49, 32, 54, and 61), and 1223 (plate 58). Ray, The Art of the French Illustrated Book, 154.