Inscribed Original Max Ernst Artwork for the L'Oeil Edition of La femme 100 têtes, with inscribed copy of book
Ernst, Max. Original Artwork for Cover of La femme 100 têtes. 1956
3 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches; collage; black line art with yellow and green gouache; housed between glass and framed; ownership and museum labels to frame verso.
Inscribed in pencil by Ernst to Rosamond and Georges Bernier at bottom: Pour Peggy et Georges / leur ami Max Ernst.
La femme 100 têtes was the first of Max Ernst's trilogy of Surrealist books featuring a series of black-and-white illustrations reproduced from his collages. Referred to subsequently as collage novels, the books' artwork, thoroughly modern in tone, but fashioned by Ernst from combinations of nineteenth-century etchings and engravings, each featured a descriptive, often humorous, caption by Ernst. For La femme, André Breton provided the Avis au Lecteur, which served as a preface.
In 1955, Ernst published the essay "Rhineland Memories" in the new art magazine L’Oeil, co-founded by the husband and wife team of Georges and Rosamond Bernier. Ernst had known Rosamond Bernier for nearly a decade, dating back to her time in Paris as the European features editor for Vogue following World War II (when she was still known as Rosamond Riley). While there, she met and befriended many of the continent’s leading artists and intellectuals, among them Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Joan Miró, Henri Matisse, and Ernst, and in late 1948, she had married the French journalist Georges Bernier.
It was most likely at this time that the idea of re-issuing La femme 100 têtes originated, and for the new edition, Ernst created a fresh collage for the front cover of the volume, featuring a female nude standing among a variety of foliage. While similar in style to those illustrating the interior of the book, this piece was not entirely black-and-white, but included areas hand-colored by Ernst in yellow and green gouache, and was reproduced as such on the dust jacket. The collaboration with Ernst was the Berniers' first stand-alone book under the Editions de L'Oeil imprint.
To mark the occasion and the success of their mutual endeavor, Ernst presented his original cover collage to the couple, inscribing it to them as "their friend Max Ernst," and using the diminutive "Peggy" for Rosamond, a nickname derived from her middle name Margaret, and used only by those closest to her.
Provenance: Rosamond Bernier, then by descent.
Ernst, Max. La femme 100 têtes. Paris: Editions de L'Oeil, 1956.
4to.; illustrated throughout with black-and-white collage reproductions; edges lightly sunned; plain wrappers, lightly tanned; color illustrated dust jacket with French flaps; lightly tanned; missing glassine jacket.
Limited edition, one of 1,000 numbered copies (this is #578). Inscribed in green and pink ink to Rosamond Bernier on the half title page: à Peggy Bernier / [small sketch of bird with pink heart] / son ami / Max Ernst.