Ville Imaginaire II

Erik Desmazières (French, born in 1948)

Catalogue Raisonné

Fitch-Febvrel 171 i/II


Platemark: 17.8 x 47.5 cm (7 x 18 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Etching, hand colored with opaque watercolor on buff paper

Not On View


Contemporary Art, Europe, Prints and Drawings



Erik Desmazières was born in 1948 in Rabat, Morocco, and lived there until the age of twelve. He began to draw as a boy and yearned to be an artist. To satisfy his parents’ desire that he make himself employable, he studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. Immediately after graduating in 1971, he enrolled in an evening course on drawing. Seeing his talent, a friend suggested that he make prints. Knowing nothing of printmaking techniques, he turned to artist Jean Delpech from whom he learned the rudiments. Continuing to explore printmaking and draughtsmanship with little instruction, Desmazières essentially developed as a self-taught artist. His teachers are the great masters of the history of graphic arts. He plunders the work of artists such as Jacques Callot, Giovanni Battista Piranesi, and M. C. Escher. Some of his prints directly reinterpret theirs; others are completely original while remaining grounded in tradition. Desmazières has an uncanny knack for imparting a slightly fantastic twist to seemingly straightforward imagery. While his work has Escher’s precision of line, it moves beyond mathematical exercise because he fills his inventions with evocative atmosphere à la Piranesi. Desmazières’s oeuvre now comprises some two hundred etchings.
Desmazières occasionally hand colors his prints. “Ville Imaginaire II” is printed on buff-colored paper. Desmazières has painted the impression with thinly-applied opaque watercolors. The pink, purple, blue, and brown palette quietly reinforces the romantic character of the image. A rugged, rocky terrain seems to have been tamed over the course of centuries. Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture dominate, but Desmazières makes the fantasy explicit with the prominently placed orb floating within the upper-floor loggia of a tower that soars out of view.


Signed and dated lower right in pen and black ink : - Erik Desmazieres 1998 -
Lower left in pen and black ink: épreuve refraussée no. 6
Lower center in pen and black ink: - Ville imaginaire II -


Childs Gallery (Boston); from which puchased by MFA, 20 September 2006.

Credit Line

Lee M. Friedman Fund


© 2011 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.