Danseuse cambodgienne (Cambodian Dancer)
Gypsographie (relief print from a plaster mould) on japan paper, with pale flesh colour, mustard yellow and blue-grey colouration, 1893-4. Signed in pencil lower right, numbered 19 lower left
A fine impression with margins, in very good condition.164 x 164mm
Roche was a sculptor, painter, ceramist and medallist before pioneering a distinctive printmaking technique he shared with only a couple of other artists. He began with a low bas-relief, of which he made a plaster mould. Ink and colour were applied directly to the mould and japan paper, which was flexible, was pressed into the hollows. Only a limited number of proofs could be pulled because of their fragility.
Dancers from French Indochina created a sensation at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1889, and though Cambodia was chiefly represented by a replica of the pagoda at Angkor, Roche must have seen a dancer in this context. By the fair of 1900 an “Indochinese Theatre” was included, and in 1906 the Cambodian royal ballet visited the Colonial Exhibition in Marseilles, where Rodin spent an obsessive week recording their movements. Roche’s expressive and amusing print was in the vanguard of this increasingly widespread fascination. Rare.