DROZ, Antoine Gustave (1832-1895) & REGNIER, BETTANIER & MORLON (lithographers)
Un Buffet de Chemin de Fer / Railway Refreshment Room
Paris: Dusacq & Cie. Editeurs, 1864. Hand-coloured lithograph after a painting by Droz. Very good condition apart from some light soiling, two skillfully repaired small tears in the top and right margins, and an expertly mended loss in the lower part of the image. Image size (including text): 19 1/4 x 23 1/4 inches. Sheet size: 20 1/4 x 26 inches.
A beautifully coloured, humorous plate that was most likely part of a series published by Dusacq of images by various artists depicting railway related scenes.
During the mid-nineteenth century, the technological advancement and financial prosperity of France under Napoleon III hastened the development of the railway and other modern modes of transportation such as the omnibus. These improvements brought about a culture of mass tourism, as members of various classes flocked to the railroad to take day trips. An archetypal symbol of modern life, the railway station became a popular subject during the period and was represented by artists such as Honoré Daumier and William Powell Frith. It was an ideal place to observe a varied cross-section of society and the comical idiosyncrasies of human behavior. In addition to being a place where one purchased refreshments while awaiting one's train, the railway buffet, as emphasized in this print, became a popular social venue for men and women. Born in 1832, the artist and author Antoine Gustave Droz was the son of the renowned sculptor Jules-Antoine Droz. In 1851, he studied with Picot at the École des Beaux-Arts and exhibited several works at the Salon beginning in 1857. He was primarily a genre painter, and a collection of his witty drawings illustrating family life were published in the satiric weekly magazine Vie Parisienne before being issued as a very well received book entitled Monsieur, Madame et Bébê in 1866. Despite his artistic training, Droz began to focus on his literary career after his initial success and became a well respected author of numerous novels including Entre nous (1867), Autour d'une source (1869), Un Pacquet de letters (1870), and L'Enfant (1885). Many of his books were esteemed for their humorous nature, and this comical element is also evident in several of his early paintings such as Un Buffet de Chemin de Fer on which this plate is based.
Cf. Benezit, Dictionaire des Peintres, Sculptteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, vol. 4, p. 749; cf. Thieme/Becker, Allgemeines Lexicon der bilden Künstler, vol 9/10, p. 585.