Rodolphe Bresdin, (b. 1822, Montrelais, Fr.—d. Jan.
14, 1885, Sèvres), eccentric and visionary French engraver,
lithographer, and etcher noted for his highly detailed and
technically precise prints and drawings. Many of his works had
elements of the fantastic, the exotic, or the macabre. He pioneered
in lithography, producing such unusual works as “Comedy of Death,”
which inspired similar works by other lithographers. Bresdin’s work
was admired by such contemporaries as Victor Hugo, Théophile
Gautier, and Charles Baudelaire.
Little is known of Bresdin’s early
life. When the Revolution of 1848 broke out, however, he was living
in Paris and decided to take an extended walking tour of France. He
stayed in Toulouse from 1853 to 1857 and in Bordeaux from 1860 to
1861, where he produced one of his most famous lithographs, “The
Good Samaritan.” Further wanderings included an extended stay in
Canada in the early 1870s, after which he returned penniless to
France (1876). He remained a solitary figure, working outside of any
school, misunderstood and mostly unappreciated. The strange, bizarre
imagery of his more than 200 prints, however, was a powerful
influence on the Symbolists and the Surrealists of the 20th century.