Dulac, Charles

Dulac, Charles-Marie. (1866-1898)


Charles-Marie Dulac died at a tragically early age. As a young man he worked as a stage hand for the Paris Opera and as a result of contact with the materials that were used he developed lead poisoning. The realisation of his fatal condition gave rise to a tragic inspiration and his artistic vision became focused upon the spiritual rendering of natural scenes. For much of this work he developed a consummate skill in lithography and became one of its greatest exponents. He was able to use the medium of lithography to create sensory impressions, particularly of mood, varying the tonality of his landscapes and sometimes creating the faintest of images to evoke a sense of calm and spiritual wellbeing. There can be a paradoxical boldness in making the lightest print impression – the courage to allow a lack of distinction in the image to evoke mystery and the numinous. Other images show passion rather than tranquility, with mystical skies energised by swirling, wind-driven clouds.
There were two portfolios of lithographs, ‘Suite de Paysages’ and ‘Le Cantique de Créatures’ and to turn these pages and view the complete sets offered a meditative exercise. The portfolios are now rare but individual lithographs can be found and these can come in a range of tones and colours, with the same image going through variations according to the artist’s creative vision. Though the renditions vary greatly, each particular scene was given its own ‘remarque’, a small printed emblem placed in the centre of the lower margin. For instance his lithograph that is sometimes referred to as ‘Le Vent’ (The Wind), always has a coiled snake remarque; others have a bat emblem or types of flowers.
Charles-Marie Dulac is considered to be one of the finest lithographers and with a vision, inspired by his religious conviction, that sets him amongst the foremost creators of the Symbolist landscape.

William Rose for Talisman Fine Art (October 2019)