More about Cover for L'Estampe originale (The Original Print)

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Toulouse-Lautrec's cover for L'Estampe Originale, gracing the first installment in the nine-part series, celebrates his local printmaker. For you see...

In the printmaking process there are two separate yet equally important groups: the artists who mock up the design, and the printmakers who put it on paper. These are their stories. (Obviously, I smell a new Law & Order franchise.)

To the left is Pere Cotelle, a Jewish master printer. Giving his entire body over to the printmaking process, Cotelle is hunched over and putting in a hard day's work hand-making some lovely prints. To the right, in an oversized safety vest ensemble, is Jane Avril. She's a famous cabaret performer from the Moulin Rouge, and good friend of Toulouse-Lautrec. She looks on at Cotelle's work in amusement. Or... bemusement? Does she need the loo? Just tell us what's on your mind, Jane!

Regardless, the mere presence of Avril suggests that this new medium may be enjoyed by even the most avant of the day's avant-garde, the haughtiest of the haute-couture, the tip-top of the elite. Just look at her hat. Her hat is amazing! Printmaking is amazing, too! Avril is the only cabaret performer Toulouse-Lautrec depicted offstage, and the L'Estampe Originale cover is the best known example of his ongoing admiration.

Even more important than promoting the good vibes between artist and printmaker, L'Estampe Originale chronicled printmaking and its various emanations as capital 'A' Art. Contributors included luminaries like Paul Gauguin and Auguste Renoir. Sure, most of the contributions are boring old lithographs, but there's other methods that really get the blood pumping, like gypsography, woodcuts, and itaglio prints.

Originals of this journal are distinguished from copies by a blind stamp acting as a signature. So, if you were trolling through here for information to successfully counterfeit L'Estampe Originale, please ignore what you just read. On the other hand, Christie's values an original of Toulouse-Lautrec's Originale cover at about a measly $7000. I mean, really, there's much more profitable crimes out there just waiting to be committed.