31st May, 2023 11:00

19th & 20th Century Photographs

  Lot 205

Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986)

Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986)

THE RABBIT HAS ARRIVED / DESCENT OF THE RABBIT, September 1911. A pair of silver gelatin prints (2), formerly in the personal collection of Lartigue's third wife, Florette.

'Arrived' measuring 120 x 87mm, early print signed by Florette with various title and location annotations in pencil on the verso, including the date '1911', 'Rouzat', 'Photo by J.H. Lartigue'.

'Descent' measuring 172 x 240mm, printed c.1960s, signed by Florette with location annotations in pencil on the verso, including the date '23 Sept 1911', 'Rouzat', 'Photo by J.H. Lartigue'.

Mounted together in separate windows and framed, frame size 545 x 647mm.

The first line of Jacques-Henri Lartigue's personal diary read, "The world for me is like an immense parkland" -- a parkland that Lartigue captured with his trademark curiousity, inquisitive wit, and charming spontaneity through his amateur lens. Lartigue was taught to use a camera by his father at the age of 7, and documented his privileged, playful life from this early age. His images of fast racing cars, promenading Parisian ladies, and daring airplanes would come to define the elegance and innovation of Belle Epoque France. The present pair of photographs encapsulates the spirited sporting nature of Lartigue and his brother, fondly nicknamed Zissou. In the early autumn of 1911, Zissou constructed a loop-de-loop track which transported the family's unsuspecting rabbits and chickens in a tailor-made car. Lartigue's albums from 1911-12 showase this pair of images alongside some of his most famous scenes taken that summer at the family home in Rouzat, including his 'courses de bob' racers, and Zissou floating in an innertube while dressed in a full suit.

Lartigue wrote in his diary of the experiment, "Thanks to the inventive genius of my brother, our hens and rabbits were lucky enough to find themselves guinea pigs, and thus able to experience many strong acrobatic emotions which were denied to us!...Our parents need not have worried, there were no accidents in spite of the fact that our little roller coaster took off from the second floor window. After their free rides our small friends tottered away as if drunk - on excitement no doubt."

Between 1979 and 1986, Lartigue gifted his archive to the French State, which is now kept at the Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine (MAP, Charenton-le-Pont). Lartigue's third wife Florette, who he married in Paris in 1945, aided in the donation, and the couple selected a number of prints from the archive and Lartigue's personal albums that would be kept for the family. After Lartigue died in 1986, the prints became a part of Florette's personal collection, which included the two prints presented here.


Album 1911-12, pp.68-72, held by Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine, MAP, Charenton-le-Pont.

'Boyhood Photos of J.H. Lartigue - The Family Album of a Gifted Age', pp.56-57, published by Guichard, 1966.


Private Collection, London

Christie's, 7 May 1999

By descent to Lartigue's wife Florette (née Ormea)

Estimated at £10,000 - £15,000


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