nouveau #12

“Lautrec Chocolat”

"A second Lautrec-themed work is also an original page from “Le Rire” (3/28/1896) - the very rare print entitled “Chocolat dansant dans un bar”.  Chocolat was a famous-to-the-scene clown of African descent who, along with Lautrec, frequented the Irish and American Bar famous in Parisian nightlife for its unpretentious smoky atmosphere and hard-drinking clientele.  This unique scene features not only Chocolat, but the barman Randolphe who actually worked the bar, and Lautrec himself in the front of the audience.  A unique work of art that captures the mood and character of the moment, and the times.

woods and materials
woods and materials

The positioning of the lithograph in the body of the instrument along with Chocolat’s dancing pose give rise to the manneristic treatment of the Maple burl and Myrtle burl wood shapes that comprise the top.  The lithograph is affixed at an angle reminiscent of Chocolat’s dancing body, and the cutaway portion of the lithograph is set back on the opposite side with the arc following the exact shape of the treble side of the instrument’s body - not unlike Chocolat’s pose.  Note the top cutout portion of the lithograph taking its cue from the positioning of his hand, and how the golden glass over gold-leaf picks up the small yellow tones of the print.  Also note how the sketch-like quality of the glass’ pattern is as the style of the medium.  The little primordial wood form is reminiscent of the roast hen on the table, and with mindful observation one notices how form gives rise to form throughout the instrument’s entire design.  The colours are eclectic, numerous, and subtle - cream, black, yellow, light blue, tangerine, pink, pink blue, dark brown, and milk.  A dramatically figured Macassar Ebony bridge and 1930s radio knobs complete the instrument’s cohesiveness."


Paul Schmidt


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