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Giuseppe De Nittis, Quai Voltaire, an undescribed state between the fifth and sixth state indicated by Fiorani and Dinoia


GIUSEPPE DE NITTIS (Barletta 1846 - Saint-Germaine-en-Laye 1884) QUAI VOLTAIRE (1876) also known as Lungo la Senna, Veduta del Quai Voltaire a Parigi, and Viale Autunnale
Etching and drypoint, 1876, Fiorani-Dinoia 39. Artist's proof of the sixth state, or of an undescribed state between the fifth and the sixth. Pulled in black ink on an extremely thin sheet of laid paper, similar to Japanese ones. The impression shows an extensive work on the surface tone, left in many areas, selectively wiped off in others, as in the sky. Inscribed in pencil at the bottom right corner of the sheet G. de Nittis. To the platemark 140 x 218 mm, the entire sheet measuring 200 x 296 mm.
Quai Voltaire is the etching by De Nittis of which the greatest number of states are known. It is also the only one of which the plate is preserved in a public collection (Museo Civico, Barletta). Therefore the work is certainly among those studied more deeply in the artist’s oeuvre as a printmaker.
At the same time this etching has never had a commercial edition, so impressions of it are extremely rare and all originally came from De Nittis' studio.
I compared directly this impression with the two specimens, of the fifth and sixth state, preserved at the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica in Rome: inv. FN39232 (Fiorani-Dinoia fifth state) and inv. FN39233 (Fiorani-Dinoia sixth state).
Both our impression and FN39233 show the features of the sixth state, after a new biting of the plate which filled the whole image with new elements.
This biting also caused a defect in the plate, visible at the upper right corner of both prints.

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de nittis cfr. 1

Limiting the comparison to our specimen and to FN29233, I noted that many of the new etched areas do not keep ink in our impression, whereas, on the contrary, in FN29233, they show a rich inking.

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de nittis cfr. 2

One possibility is that De Nittis reworked these areas with the drypoint, to open the etched lines, allowing them to be filled by ink. In this case, our impression would be an intermediate state between the fifth and the sixth. Rosalba Dinoia is more inclned to consider our impression an artist's proof of the sixth state, but pulled by the artist after the impression at the Istituto Centrale per la Grafica.

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de nittis cfr. 3

Fabio Fiorani and Rosalba Dinoia, De Nittis Incisore / De Nittis the Printmaker, Rome 1999.
I warmly thank Rosalba Dinoia for her generous help. I also thank Arnoldo Manfredi who, in this occasion as in others in the past, gave me the help of the skilled eyes of a printmaker of second generation.

Giuseppe De Nittis represents, together with Boldini and Zandomeneghi, that part of the Italian artistic 'milieu' of the second half of the 19th century, which more clearly adopted the new poetic world of French Painting while maintaining a strong and constant bond with Italian tradition. Born in Puglia, De Nittis studied at the Accademia in Naples. The artist went to Paris in 1867 and settled there in 1868 to marry Léontine Gruvelle, who introduced him to Zola, Alexandre Dumas fils, Manet, and Degas. After a stay in Italy during the Franco Prussian War, De Nittis returned to Paris, becoming a celebrated chronicler of Parisian life and exhibiting regularly at the Salon. De Nittis' prints were all produced during his stay in Paris and were involved in the change that was taking place in the field of original etching in France: the development from a production directed mainly to an upper-class public to one conceived as pure experimentation and personal achievement.


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