Frontispice pour L’Illustration Nouvelle 1877: L’Enterrement du burin (The Burial of the Burin), 1877
Etching, aquatint, drypoint and roulette
Bourcard Goodfriend 124 v/V. Signed in the plate lower left: “Fx Buhot inv’ sc.”. Inscribed in the plate, on locomotive: “L’Illustration / Nouvelle / Paris / 1877”; inscribed in the plate, at left, on the hearse: “1876”. Printed on laid paper. A fine impression in fine condition, aside from light discoloration and restoration work to repair paper losses in the top and right margins. There are two small (1/16 inch) areas of ink loss on the face of the train. Sheet measures 18 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches. From the Joseph and Marjorie Relkin Collection.
The print’s complex imagery depicts an allegory of printmaking in the late 19th century, for years dominated by reproductive engraving. However, by 1877 Buhot and “L’Illustration Nouvelle” were celebrating the artistic dominance of the Etching Revival, which had relegated all other graphic processes to unoriginal commercialism. Here the burin, the engraver’s tool, is driven away by a hearse, inscribed “1876”, while its spirit is taken upwards toward heaven. A modern locomotive, inscribed “L’Illustration Nouvelle 1877”, announces the triumphant arrival of original etching.