visuel oeuvre
Frontispice pour fables et contes de Thierry-Faletans, 1868 Lithography applied on China paper, extremely rare proof of the 1st state, 25,2 x 20,5 cm; sheet 48,6 x 32,1 cm © Beaux-Arts de Paris

Rodolphe Bresdin

While the collections of Beaux-Arts de Paris have a posthumous portrait of Rodolphe Bresdin in his studio, until now there had been none of the engraved or lithographed plates by this doomed artist, who died in misery, who had such an eloquent nickname, “Chien-caillou” (Stone-dog).

This frontispiece is exemplary of his work, misunderstood during his lifetime: free, transgressive, eccentric, and filled with mysterious inspirations so admired by Baudelaire, now much sought after and becoming extremely rare. In response to a commission from a now-forgotten writer, Comte Thierry-Faletans, Bresdin defied the author’s dictates, and engraved a phantasmagorical rebus on the central stone in place of the title of the work.

What is remarkable in the inscription, signed in large letters by Rodolphe Bresdin, apart from the bones, the skull, the profile of a temple with a sun wheel, an owl, the words “calvai[re] du vieux Caillou” (calvary of the old stone), followed by a crucifix “coplast [lament], Remember.” To the right of the stone, Bresdin portrays himself as an old man.

Bresdin pulled eight proofs of this frontispiece.