A painter and prolific printmaker, Jacques Villon made his first print with the guidance of his grandfather, an engraver. He was a member of an artistic family that included siblings Marcel Duchamp, Raymond Duchamp-Villon, and Suzanne Duchamp. Villon started his own career designing illustrations for Parisian journals, as well as posters and prints in the style largely made popular by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in the 1890s. With the help of printer Eugène Delâtre and publisher Edmond Sagot, he produced nearly two hundred fifty intaglio prints by 1910, often working through multiple states, combining techniques and printing multicolor or single-color variants.
Renée, Three Quarters View is one of forty intaglio prints from 1910 to 1913 that mark a point of transition in Villon's overall oeuvre toward greater abstraction. At this time he traveled in a circle of artists working in a Cubist style, which led to a change in his approach to figure-ground relationships, relying on straight, parallel, and cross-hatched lines to present his subjects as faceted volumes in flattened space. As was often his practice, Villon returned here to an earlier subject, a family member whom he had rendered as a seductively posed child years before. This version of Renée as a dour adult is closely based on Villon's painting of the same title and date. It also relates to an earlier drypoint in which Renée faces forward, as well as to two smaller, subsequently etched versions of this sitter.
For the remainder of his five-decade career, Villon continued to create intaglio prints. Sought after for his skills as a printmaker, he also made color aquatints and lithographs after paintings by established artists as a means of earning income. In all, he completed seven hundred prints, including one hundred such reproductive prints and nearly seventy-five illustrations for book projects.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Jennifer Roberts, in Deborah Wye, Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2004, p. 76.