ROGER CHASTEL (French / 1897-1981)

Roger Chastel was born in Paris. From 1912 he studied at the Académie Julian, leaving it briefly for the “narrowly academic” atelier of Cormon at the Beaux-Arts, before being called up for WWI. After he was demobilised, Roger Chastel continued his art studies under the Argentinian painter Araujo. Chastel felt he missed out on the Cubist revolution, but nevertheless the influence of Picasso is evident in his work, as is that of Bonnard and Matisse. Chastel and Bonnard became friends while Chastel lived in Cannes during the Nazi occupation, and it was Bonnard who introduced Chastel to the Galerie Maeght. In 1938, Roger Chastel had been chosen by France to paint one of four panels for the United Nations, the others being by Maurice Denis, Ker-Xavier Roussel and Edouard Vuillard. Chastel won the Grand Prix de la Peinture at the first Saõ Paolo Biennale in 1951; won the Prix National des Arts in 1961; and from 1963-68 was chef d’atelier at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts. We have both lithographs and etchings with aquatint by Roger Chastel. The etchings were made for his Bestiary, one of the supreme achievements of 20th-century printmaking. The etchings were printed by the artist and Jean Signovert on Chastel's own hand press. It must have been a monumental task to produce the total of 196 copies. As Walter Strachan notes in The Artist and the Book in France, 'Each plate (zinc) had to be inked by hand with two separate colours and put through the hand-press...The labour of the 10,000 separate inkings made the task a Herculean one, not only of illustration but of book-architecture. But the result was a masterpiece.' Aware that in producing a modern bestiary he was challenging Dufy and Picasso, Roger Chastel made innumerable studies at the Paris Zoo until he knew the animals and birds he was drawing from the inside out. He said, 'I do not envisage an etching of a particular horse but I see a particular etching as a horse.' See: Mistler, Roger Chastel, 1943; Lescure, Chastel, 1962; Chastel, …passé par la tête, 1968.

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Selected prints by ROGER CHASTEL

Dreaming man, 1948
Bird in flight, 1948
Girl in a nightdress, 1946

View all available prints by ROGER CHASTEL