ENSOR James (1860-1949)

Lot 199
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2500 - 3000 EUR
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Result : 3 640EUR
ENSOR James (1860-1949)

The Plague King. 1895. Etching. 115 x 93 mm. Taevernier 100. Very nice proof on strong fibrous japan, titled, dedicated in pencil: "à Monsieur Van Oest / et vivent Poe et Baudelaire", signed, then initialled in pencil on verso. Minute traces of rubbing on the reverse. Fine scattered broken creases at the edges of the folio. Wide margins [297 x 396 mm].
Ensor was inspired by a tale by Edgar Poe, "The Plague King", a scabrous tale, between black humour and satire, originally published in 1835. It was translated into French by Charles Baudelaire and published in the Nouvelles histoires extraordinaires in 1857. The scene depicts the basement banquet held by the king of junk, King Plague I (a satire of President Andrew Jackson in Poe's day), in 14th century London ravaged by the plague of disease. At this banquet, two sailors on the prowl cause havoc among the guests, all of whom are dignitaries, in a burlesque and grotesque atmosphere that plays on death.
This is an offprint with very large margins, dedicated to the publisher Gérard van Oest (1875-1935). The latter published G. Le Roy's book on Ensor in Brussels in 1922, of which the first edition of 55 copies includes a proof printed on Japon, albeit in a smaller format than our proof (230 x 300 mm).
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