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French ( 1879 - 1936 )

Ernest Montaut died unexpectedly at the early age of 31 so unfortunately, there is very little known about him. However, he is credited with inventing many artistic techniques, including speed lines and the deliberate distortion of perspective by bending and foreshortening the image in order to create the illusion of movement and speed. Many of these techniques have stood the test of time and are still used today by artists that draw and paint transportation subjects. For the most part Montaut’s images were produced in two standard sizes. The larger of the two measure 17.75” x 35.5” although there are some variants. The smaller image was bound into a book titled “Ten Ans de Courses, les Marques Victorieuses 1897-1907” and their original size was 13.625” x 8.25” with no known variations. Montaut began his printmaking career in the late 1800’s; he would draw the image onto a lithographic stone, which was used to produce a hand-pulled lithograph of the outline. Most of the printed outlines for the larger images included the year of publication, the artists and the printmaker’s name of Mabileau et Cie., Paris. The finished work quite often contained a title and a description of the event or the image. In fact some of the descriptions promoted the use of certain tires, magnetos, carburetors etc., and may well have been subsidized by those manufacturers. The smaller images were normally numbered but lacked any description as this information was printed on the protective pages that were bound in between each image in the book. These outlines were then hand-colored using watercolor paints. It is widely accepted, that for the smaller images, Montaut used stencils and unskilled labor (often children). For the larger images he used skilled artisans, and the difference in artistic ability and quality is very noticeable, the larger images can truly be classified as works of art. The use of different artists to color the same outline explains why some variations occasionally occur in colors between identical images. These variations should not be confused with bleaching or toning that has occurred due to the use of acidic framing materials or inadequate protection from ultra-violet light sources. Montaut’s lithographs are packed with action, drama, speed and daring. Twisting mountain roads being covered at great speeds by the new-fangled automobile. Derigibles, biplanes, speedboats racing against the clock or each other, their pilots, drivers and riding mechanics pressed to the limit of physical endurance in order to control these monstrous contraptions. The fashionable chauffeured limousines, the glamour of the occasion, the excitement of the event, the scenic surroundings are all captured in a Montaut lithograph. While it is still subject to conjecture it is generally accepted that Montaut and his artists produced approximately 200 different and varied images (so far we have managed to catalog 108). It is also accepted that 100 prints (or possibly less) of each of those images were produced. The production of prints continued after Montaut’s death in 1909 and it is assumed that many of the later prints from the artist “Gamy” were produced by Montauts wife Marguerite, with Gamy being an anagram of her nickname “Magy”. Other artists known to have worked for or with Montaut include Roowy, Nevil, Campion, Aldelmo, Brie, Dufourt and Jobbe du Val and we are sure that there are others!

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