Portfolio - Gavarni's Seasons
Welcome to the newest feature on our website, "The Portfolio," which will showcase antique prints. To inaugurate this new
section we're pleased to offer a suite of 12 images, "L'ILLUSTRATIONS LES DOUZE MOISE DERNIER DE GAVARNI" ("Illustrations
of the Twelve Months After Gavarni").
This set of wood engravings was printed in lithographic ink, perhaps to achieve a deeper tone; published in Paris in 1869 by
Charles Lorilleux. The month of December is signed in the block with Gavarni's name and the initials "CF" appear on the side
of a rock emerging from the frozen pond.
Each image measures approximately 12-1/2 x 8 on a leaf 18-3/4 x 13. All have a faint tide mark in the extreme lower right
margin, and there is scattered light foxing in the margins of five of the plates. In no instance is the image affected. It
appears shading has been added in pencil to the January plate. Overall Very Good condition.
The set is matted to conservation standards in charcoal-colored mats, each of which has a notch cut to highlight the name of the month.
Hippolyte Guillaume Suplice Chevalier (1804-1866) is better known under his pseudonym, Gavarni. He began his professional
life as a draftsman in an engineer's workshop and was a talented watercolorist, but it was his skill as a caricaturist which
made his reputation.
Gavarni provided illustrations for the popular journals "Silhouete" and "Charivari" as well as books such as "Le Diable a Paris,"
"Gavarni in London," and "Les enfants Terribles." Gavarni "was one of the most clever caricaturists that ever lived... [he]
hit off, with a few strokes of the pencil, the social life of Paris, from the highest to the lowest grade, with great truth
and skill." (Bryan's Dictionary of Painters & Engravers, Vol. I, p. 289, edition of 1903).
This series represents the last drawings the artist ever made and were published three years after his death. Gavarni took
inspiration from the traditional calendars in medieval Books of Hours, depicting appropriate activities for each month. But he
also added his playful take on the Revolutionary calendar of the first Republic - a system which does not correspond exactly
with the Gregorian calendar. For instance, each month in the Revolutionary calendar consisted of 30 days. Descriptive
characteristics were used to name the new months, i.e. Ventoise (windy month) for what would be most of March.
A charming group by Gavarni at his good-natured best. This set of twelve: $2,000.00
L'ILLUSTRATIONS LES DOUZE MOISE DERNIER DE GAVARNI
Janvier (Nivose, or Snowy Month)
A white-haired old-timer walks through the snow, carrying toys for his grandchildren.
Fevrier (Pluvoise, or Rainy Month)
An old gentleman tries to shield himself from the rain as he makes his way through mud and muck.
Mars (Ventoise, or Windy Month)
Straining against the wind, this man holds on to his hat and carries the traditional emblem of the wind - a bellows.
Avril (Germinal, or Month of Buds)
A gardener wearing wooden shoes transplants seedlings on a mild spring day.
Mai (Floreal, or Flowery Month)
A young "voyou," or scamp, has broken off a bough of spring blossoms to take back to the city.
Juin (Prairial, or Meadow Month)
Whetting his scythe, this straw-hatted farmer recalls images of Millet's peasants.
Juillet (Messidor, or Reaping Month)
A field hand pauses in his labors with his hat shading his eyes from the hot sun.
Aout (Thermidor, or Month of Heat)
A peddler offers cold refreshment during the dog days of summer.
Septembre (Fructidor, or Fruitful Month)
A rustic hunter - or is he a poacher? - seeks game, his rifle partly hidden by his smock.
Octobre (Vendemaire, or Month of the Vintage)
Lake Bacchus this happy imbiber celebrates the month of the grape harvest.
Novembre (Brumaire, or Foggy Month)
A chimney sweep calls out the availability of his services, his white teeth contrasting with his sooty face.
Decembre (Frimaire, or Frosty Month)
A carefree skater enjoys a turn at the Boise du Boulogne.