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e-mail: bill@hollandarts.com

Absolutely EVERYTHING you need to know about Icart Erotica

IMPORTANT info regarding signatures and other details on the erotic etchings:

Icart provided the illustrations for 24 French-published books in the years 1925-1948. They were called livre d'artiste or ''artist's books'' because the illustrations were not just printed pictures on the pages like in a modern day coffee table book; the illustrations were actual etchings (or engravings) printed from Icart's individual copper plates and then hand colored. A few books, like Faust, contained photogravure prints rather than etchings. These editions were larger, as the photogravure process is not limited to 500 quality images as is the etching process.  

Each book was numbered and the edition size was between 50-500. If there were 500 copies of the book, then there were 500 copies of each “erotic” image produced. Many of the books were not bound. The text pages and the engravings came in a fancy box. Because of the high value of the complete book, and the desire by collectors to display the artwork in frames, most dealers break up the books and sell the artwork individually.  

With almost no exceptions, [one worth noting is the the very limited book La Ronde des Danses], the etchings were not signed. No, the piece on ebay for $300 is not that rare exception. Think about it. No artist is going to spend his life signing individual pages of a book. Compare the added signatures on the pieces, sold mainly on ebay, to genuine signatures on his full-size etchings. You will find some examples by clicking on the titles HERE.

Icart used a quality rag paper, many times with a visible watermark. On etchings with white margins around the image, you will always see the impression line where the copper plate pressed into the paper. Except for obvious ink-jet printer and Xerox copies, there are no reproductions. It is simply too much work for their relatively inexpensive cost.

Most books were sold in both limited-deluxe and standard editions. The deluxe books had extra suites in B&W and/or sepia. You will see these sold individually, sometimes with added coloring and again, many times with added signatures. Most collectors consider them of lesser value. The deluxe books sometimes included a suite of etchings with remarque drawings at the bottom. These usually sell for a small premium because of the rarity and the added artwork. A very few special books had a signed watercolor drawing which followed the theme of the book. The watercolors were never identical to the book etchings. They WERE pencil-signed. It sounds confusing, but the watercolors are on a flat sheet of paper with no plate impression line and do not match the regular book pictures. They are obviously not a page from a book and very few were made and in circulation.    
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ABOVE: 5 fake signatures. Icart's O and the T are two letters that are hard to duplicate.

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ABOVE: 3 authentic signatures from full-size etchings.

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ABOVE: plate impression line. It looks like a shadow outlining the image about 3/8" all the way around. You can feel it on the paper.

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ABOVE: Authentic watermark seen when holding the paper up to light. There are various paper maker's watermarks and there are some pages that do not have a watermark. It is unfortunate that there are few 100%, no exception guidelines to cover Icart's vast amount of artwork.
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ABOVE: Authentic B&W etching from Le Sopha with remarque at bottom. The signature is NOT authentic.

In the book La Ronde des Dances--the color etchings were signed. The sepia and B&W suites were not. (Below is a color example from the book).
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Felecia in Pink (figure #246 and pictured below) is always plate signed.
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Engravings from La Vie des Seins have no margins, therefore no plate impression lines.
(Below is a color example from the book).
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Sometimes Icart signed the title page of a book, but not directly below a picture.

Each etching comes with my certificate of authenticity as the author of two books on the Louis Icart.
The FIGURE NUMBERS are from my book: Louis Icart Erotica
Some of the pictures in my book are mirror-images.
The scanned images on this website show the images accurately.

Expect some color variation in the actual etchings

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