Two prints done in 1972, by the artist Henk Krijger (1914-1979), came in for restoration. The top, Hommage a Debussy, a work done on rice paper, was in reverence to the French composer, Debussy, and his work, Les Papillons, which is itself in reverence to the poem of the same name by Théophile Gautier. In putting the poem to music, Debussy wanted to give the words a chance to be sung by a voice “light enough to sing songs about butterflies.” The poem was probably also a source of inspiration for Krijger, as the last stanza contains the lines:
“Some young girl,
Tender-hearted, smiling, sweet,
Looks in mild surprise on you”
The bottom is entitled, I will not let thee go except thou bless me. It was done on heavy cotton rag and its inspiration is the story in Genesis, when Jacob wrestled with God.
“So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”
Krijger’s work is known for a deformed style of reality, but blended within a composition that preserves the mutual connectedness of the image.
Stay tuned for more photographs as work finishes on these jobs.
The Théophile Gautier link you provided is to a similarly named poem by Gérard de Nerval. Gautier’s poem “Les papillons” is reproduced and translated here: https://www.oxfordlieder.co.uk/song/2783. It contains the lines:
Sans prendre un seul baiser aux roses
À travers vallons et forêts,
J’irais à vos lèvres mi-closes,
Fleur de mon âme, et j’y mourrais.
Without taking a single kiss from the roses,
Across vales and woodlands,
I would go to your half-closed lips,
Flower of my soul, and there I would die.