Roberts Gallery Blog
Roberts Gallery Blog

Etching: Strikes and Restrikes

The definitions for artworks with multiple editions like etchings can be very confusing. An etching by Clarence Gagnon recently arrived in the gallery (and very quickly found a new home) and in doing some research, we discovered some very interesting things about it. We think the information below will be helpful for you to better understand parts of the complicated and fascinating nature of works in edition:

Tour de l’Horloge, Dinan
by Clarence Gagnon
Gazette des Beaux-Arts Edition, 1908

This edition of Tour de l’Horloge, Dinan by Clarence Gagnon was restruck as a part of the July 1908 edition of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. It accompanied André Beauniers’s review of the Paris 1908 Spring Salon run by the Société des Artistes Français, in which an edition from Gagnon’s original run was exhibited. Gagnon’s initial edition is thought to be of 50, and his copper plate was steel-faced to withstand the high number of pressings done for the Gazette des Beau-Arts, thought to be between 1,000 and 1,500. These editions were printed on a faux laid paper and stitched into the publication. Speaking about this edition, a critic in the following month’s Gazette des Beaux-Arts praised Gagnon’s interest in the struggle between light and shadow: “And one can surmise the interest in such a struggle, when its theatre is the old Breton city that keeps visitors’ curiosity awakened: the Jerzual gate, the Gothic bridge, the old churches, the narrow alleys, the towers and remnants of the fortified enclosures are all motifs that the magic of the shadows pushes back and sets in the ancient past.” The plate for Tour de l’Horloge, Dinan was likely completed in Gagnon’s Montparnasse studio in 1907 with a portion of the initial run of 50 dated to that year. Since the plate was largely produced in the studio, it was likely based on a postcard with additions and alterations made from his memories of time spent there in the summer of 1907. This period of Gagnon’s etching is also thought to be highly influenced by a set of fifteen restruck Rembrandt etchings gifted to him in early 1907, with whose production he is thought to have assisted. The plate for this edition is from his final, and some believe most accomplished, period of etching.

Information courtesy of Clarence Gagnon: Dreaming the Landscape by Hélène Sicotte and Michèle Grandbois with the assistance of Rosemarie L. Tovell for the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.