1896, Félix Vallotton (1865 - 1925)
woodcut in black on wove paper,
25 cm x 33 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (purchased with support from the VriendenLoterij)
There was a woodcut revival in France toward the end of the nineteenth century, in which the Swiss-French artist Félix Vallotton was the leading figure. His career peaked between 1896 and 1898 with his brilliant black-and-white woodcuts.
Laziness is one of Vallotton’s most famous prints. His wooden block combines line, surface and contrast to create an elegant and seductive image. The nude woman and the cat consist primarily of areas of white. The sofa on which she stretches languidly is made up, by contrast, of intricate patterns. Together they form a decorative whole.
Inspiration for Vallotton’s woodcuts was drawn from Japanese printmaking, in which the decorative value of the image likewise plays an important part. However, where Japanese printmakers tended to use lots of different colours in a single print, Vallotton worked exclusively in black and white. His French contemporaries also focused on colour, making Vallotton’s work unique.