Title page of Voyages en zigzag showing letters decorated with boyish figures and their teacher, and a Swiss country landscape with a chalet, people, and cows.
As the subheading suggests, the book consists of expanded notes from a travel diary kept by Töpffer while hiking with schoolboys in the Alps during a summer vacation.
This illustration was originally sketched by Rodolphe Töpffer around 1832 and later re-drawn on wood by François-Louis Français. This workflow is typical of most of the illustrations for this book, with other artists specialized in landscape drawing, such as Charles-François Daubigny or Karl Girardet also contributing. Töpffer’s failing eyesight made it necessary, as it didn’t allow him at this time to go through the more detailed and minute work of making a woodblock ready for engraving.
The correspondence between Dubochet, his publisher and cousin, and Töpffer suggests this latter was satisfied with the result.
Dated June 13, 1843:
… With a few exceptions, I find that your landscape prints engraved over there on wood from my autographied* sketches are lovely and do me honor, much more so than would poorer engraving from drawings on wood by me, be those drawings better than the sketches.
(… A une ou deux exceptions près, je trouve que vos gravures de paysage tracées là-bas sur le bois d’après mes croquis autographiés sont charmantes en sorte qu’elle me font bien plus d’honneur que me ferait une gravure moins bonne d’après un dessin sur bois de moi, fût-il meilleur que le croquis.)
* Autography is a particular lithographic process elaborated by Töpffer.
Quoted in Kaenel, Philippe. Le métier d’illustrateur. Geneva: Droz, 2003, p. 263.
Translation ours. Hide quote