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Arno, the artist who painted the watercolour reproduced in this offset lithograph, is a complete mystery. There is absolutely NO information about him on the internet, and nobody seems to know who he is, or if he is still alive...
I searched the Internet for hours, and all I found was people asking questions about him in forums and wondering who he was, or people thinking he was Arno Beijk, the Dutch artist (I have contacted him and he confirmed that he is not the artist behind these paintings), or even Peter Arno, the American cartoonist. Even on Auction houses' websites specialized in Art, the listing just informs potential bidders that the lithograph was made by "an artist signing the works 'Arno' "
There is a certain number of his lithographs for sale here and there, I would not say it is common to see them, but they are not rare.
I guess he must have been a street artist in the 1950s and 1960s in Paris, and is now forgotten. As his work represents tourist places in Paris, he might have been an artist working in Montmartre, on Place du Tertre. Because he was apparently selling to tourists, you find more choice on British or American websites than on French websites.
The price of this item reflects the absence of knowledge about the artist.
Paris has always been full of wonderful painters who capture beautiful scenes of the fine city. You can see them in Montmartre, of course, at the Place du Tertre, but also near the Eiffel Tower, Place des Vosges, near bridges, in parks...
Here is a very pretty watercolour print by the mysterious Arno, representing a street in Montmartre. It shows one of the narrow streets behind the Sacré Coeur, and some people walking.
Here is the street in August 2009.
(Source of the image: Google map)
The photograph must have been taken early in the morning, as shops are closed and the street is empty.
The print is estimated 1960s.
It is placed in a frame, that has been painted in white as they sometimes used to do in the 1960s, with a glass protection. I do not know where the print was framed, as there is no label at the back of it. The original thread to hang the print is still there.
The white part of the frame shows a few signs of age (a bit dirty), and the back of the frame shows numerous signs of age (traces and spots.
The print has never been removed from the frame, so I do not know if something is written on the back. Usually, Arno used to put a title on the left bottom corner of his painting, but either the painting hasn't got any, or it is hidden by the frame. Also, his signature is part hidden, but you can see it on the bottom left corner of the frame.
Arno's watercolours are so well reproduced in prints that they really look like the original paintings, but although I haven't removed the print from the frame to inspect it closely with a magnifying glass (this is what is advised to recognize a print from an original watercolour), and although I am not an art expert, I am pretty confident that this is a print and not an original watercolour.
Dimensions of the frame (I can not guarantee that the print has the same dimensions) : 32.4 cm x 18.1 cm x 2.2 cm
Weight (without protection and packaging): 553 g
Condition of the frame