I don't have any formal training in art. I'm one of those who simply knows what I like. When I got my hands on this Toulouse-Lautrec postcard, I couldn't explain it, but I knew it was "special." The best way I know how to describe it is that when you look at this postcard, it feels more real, life-like, as if you are holding Lautrec's sketch in front of you. There's a lot of depth and dimension in this scene, multiple shades of black. Even the white progresses from a sepia cream in the far top left corner to the brighter white of Jane's face and her purse hanging down. The answer behind the "special" of this card is the photographer: Eugène Druet. I admit I'd never heard of him before and yet he was the photographer to some of the greatest artists of the turn of the century: Rodin, Matisse, Cezanne, Pissaro. Based on the silvering and the divided back, I feel confident in saying this card is circa 1904-1919. This card is unused and near mint condition (except for the aforementioned silvering), typical antique postcard size of about 3.5 by 5.5 inches. The border is an antique white. I've included photos in different light, in a (vain) attempt to capture the professional quality. But once you have this lovely in your hand, you'll be pleased.
Druet was a restaurant owner and amateur photographer. It was Rodin who suggested he open a gallery, which he did in 1903! In the autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein , she notes: "At the other end of Paris, in the Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, was installed the former restaurateur and photographer Druet." According to the French Wikipedia site, Druet quickly went from amateur photographer to professional, not just selling art through his gallery but also photographic reproductions of the works as well. "At the beginning, his production mainly includes photographs of Auguste Rodin's works realized during his lifetime. The critic Claude Anet will say of his prints that 'they reproduce not only all the delicacies of the model, the beauty of the plans and the lines, but also ... the power of evocation of the works themselves. ... Afterwards, he made a series of photographs of Vincent van Gogh's paintings at the time when his works began to gain notoriety. ... In an issue of the Bulletin of the SFP of 1908 , his work is commented on: "Against a very large number of photographers, contenting themselves with little regard for the accuracy of values, Druet has always been concerned with orthochromatism, thus achieving a fidelity rendering indispensable in the reproduction of works of art. ""
Druet died in 1919, but his wife continued to run the gallery until 1938, when it was finally closed.
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