The first part of the exhibition presents a selection of the most beautiful works of the Dutuit Collection, which comprises 12,000 pieces, by some of the most celebrated painters-engravers of the day. These prints, collected under the impetus of Eugène Dutuit, may be characterized by their quality, rarity, and pedigree, as seen with Rembrandt’s Hundred Guilder Print, remarkable both for its size (almost fifty centimetres wide) and its provenance. The engraving originally belonged to Dominique-Vivant Denon, the first director of the Louvre. Amongst the forty-five artists presented, four of them, each with an extremely powerful universe, were chosen to represent the “Dutuit taste”: Dürer, Rembrandt, Callot, and Goya.
Thanks to the Dutuit brothers, the place of the print within the Petit Palais Collection was assured, but it was yet to embrace contemporary creation. Henry Lapauze would play a significant role in this. In 1908, his efforts culminated in the inauguration of the Museum of Modern Prints within the Petit Palais.
To create it, Lapauze solicited donations from art dealers and collectors like Henri Béraldi, who gifted the museum one hundred portraits of political leaders, scholars, and artists, several of which are presented in the exhibition.
He also obtained donations from artists and their families. The artists featured indicate the success of his campaign: Buhot, Bracquemond, Chéret, Steinlen, Toulouse-Lautrec… All marked the history of printmaking and shaped the face of the contemporary, essentially Parisian, engravings of the early years of the 20th century. The works gathered here offer a panorama of 1900s’ Paris that was as spectacular and effervescent, as it was socially unequal.
Henri Lapauze also accepted prints commissioned and published by the City of Paris. A fine example of this may be seen in the exhibition with Le Triomphe de l’Art, after Bonnat, accompanied by its preparatory sketch and the corresponding copper plates. In contrast with the predominant black and white of the works on display, the exhibition closes with a selection of colour prints, including a stunning ensemble of portraits and landscapes acquired thanks to the support of art dealer and editor Georges Petit.
Finally, an array of recent acquisitions, including prints by Auguste Renoir, Anders Zorn, and Odilon Redon, highlight the museum’s dynamic acquisitions policy.
Several mediation tools allow the public to become familiar with the different techniques of printmaking: wood engraving, etching and colour etching, burin, and lithography. At the end of the exhibition, a filmed demonstration of the creation of an etching invites visitors to then experience this creative process themselves. Using fun digital technology, they can create a work that they can receive by email and share on social networks.
Annick Lemoine, Director of the Petit Palais and General Curator
Anne-Charlotte Cathelineau, Head Heritage Curator, Head of the pre-1800 Graphic Arts Collection and Sculptures
Clara Roca, Heritage Curator, Head of the post-1800 Graphic Arts Collection and Photographs
Joëlle Raineau, Scientific Advisor with the Graphic Arts Department.