Jean-Émile Laboureur’s engravings recorded the parks, streets, shop windows, pleasure seekers, working people, and lovers of 1920s and 1930s France in an immaculate Art Deco style.
Although he worked in color from time to time, Laboureur’s essential medium was the black line on the white paper, and when he uses that back-to-basics language to describe a street market or a woman selling oysters, ordinary sights take on a champagne lightness. There is hardly an aspect of the life well lived that Laboureur ignores, from the music hall to the crowded beach to the glimpse of a naked lover in a darkened room. Laboureur makes light comedy of Cubism, and perhaps that is not such an easy thing to do. The poet Max Jacob, in an appreciation of Laboureur written in 1916, commented that “Cézanne would be charmed to see his intelligence become wit. No less am I.”
The engraving shown is a delightful 1920s ’Day at the Beach’. Sailors, beach goers and swimmers intermix on the boardwalk, going to and coming from the ocean. An edition of 102, signed and numbered in pencil. Beautifully framed.