Created in 1949, this original color lithograph with hand-applied pochoir coloring was one of a series of 15 works by Fernand Léger intended to illustrated a book of poems by the writer, Arthur Rimbaud titled Les Illuminations. Printed by Roth & Sauter, Lausanne, this work is hand signed by Fernand Léger (1881 – 1955) in pencil in the lower right with his initials printed in black in the lower right of the image. Annotated ‘essai de tirage’ (or, trial proof) and hand signed by Louis Grosclaude (editor) in pencil in the lower left margin. Annotation and editor’s signature are unique to this rare, trial proof edition with hand-applied coloring.
This intriguing composition goes hand-in-hand with Rimbaud’s poem titled Génie. A lively, abstract black and white shape anchors the work, flanked by three circular organic forms in a brilliant red. Central to the piece is the phrase, ‘Assassins | Le temps des voici (Assassins | The Time is Now)’. Ominous and clearly referencing the tone and character of Rimbaud’s work, Léger has intriguingly captured the strength and essence of this written inspiration.