André Marty (born 1857) has gone down in history as the compiler of L’Estampe originale — the most prestigious print album of the fin de siècle.
He published many more modern fine-art prints, however, for a select public of serious collectors.
His other editions, including the print series Le Café concert, the artist’s book Yvette Guilbert and the print album Album de la Revue blanche, are all among the crème de la crème of Parisian printmaking.
Compiler of L’Estampe originale
Adolphe Willette’s portrait shows Marty dressed in a sharp suit, hurrying through the rain with a portfolio of prints under his arm.
He did indeed spend the period 1893–95 rushing about Paris for L’Estampe originale, from artist to printer, and paper supplier to collector, to achieve the infinitely complex creation of this print album.
In addition to his immense organisational talent, Marty had an excellent eye for artistic quality; Together, the 74 artists he was able to recruit for the album offered a cross-section of fin-de-siècle modern art.
Printmaking and the decorative revival
Marty saw the promotion of original printmaking as part of a broader movement to raise the decorative arts to the level of fine art.
He published the magazine Le Livre vert, in which he constantly reiterated that the genius of the individual artist is the sole determinant of what qualities as ‘art.’
A print or a vase could, therefore, be every bit as artistic as a painting. To lend weight to this Art-nouveau thinking, he produced not only prints designed by artists, but also decorative objects like brooches and figurines.
Roger Marx, ‘Preface’, L’Estampe originale. Première année, Paris 1893
André Marty, Le livre vert, Paris 1896–1897
Patricia Eckert Boyer, ‘L’Estampe originale and the Revival of Decorative Arts in Late Nineteenth-Century France’, in L’Estampe originale: Artistic Printmaking in France 1893-1895, Zwolle 1991, p. 26–49