Saturday, 3 December 2016

Charles Émile Jacque’s etching of a monk portrayed in the manner of José de Ribera


Charles Émile Jacque (1813–94)
“Tête de moine en prière” (Head of a monk in prayer), 1845, in the manner of José de Ribera (15911652)

Etching on fine wove (Japan) paper, trimmed with narrow margins and lined on a conservator’s support sheet
Size: (sheet) 13 x 11.7 cm; (plate) 12.2 x 11.1 cm; (image borderline) 11.6 x 10.4 cm
Inscribed outside the image borderline at lower left: “12.”
State ii (of ii) (Note: this may be a third state as Guiffrey does not mention the inscribed plate number at lower left but the drawn borderline is certainly a feature of state ii)

J-J Guiffrey (1866) in “LÓeuvre de Ch. Jacque: Catalogue de ses eaux-fortes et pointes sèches” offers the following description of this print:
(Google Translation) “A monk, turned to the left, prays while raising his clasped hands. His vast capuchin leaves only his nose and beard in the Light. 1845. First state; Remark test; the subject is not framed. Second state: A black line draws around the engraving & some horizontal lines added in a clear part above the head. Four large chisel strokes, on the right, behind the head. To the left, chisel shots in the background" (p. 50).
Guiffrey 1866 54.II

The curator of the British Museum advises that this print and the others from the same series referencing José de Ribera were “a group of prints commissioned to Jacque c.1845/47 and signed as Ribera; however they are pastiches rather than copies after the master.” The curator also cites Henri Beraldi (1885) “Les Graveurs du dix-neuvième siècle”, vol. VIII, Paris, p. 180. (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3360532&partId=1&searchText=Moine&people=119978&page=1)

Condition: rich and well-printed impression, on fine wove (Japan) paper, trimmed with narrow margins and lined on a conservator’s support sheet. Near pristine condition (i.e. there are no stains, tears, holes, abrasions, folds or foxing).

I am selling this etching with its strong stylistic referencing of José de Ribera for AU$118 (currently US$87.95/EUR82.60/GBP69.15 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world. If you are interested in purchasing this image by Jacque as he explored the Caravaggisti style of Ribera with its dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro) and sombre mood, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.


This print is far from the scenes of everyday rural life in France that made Jacque famous as a leading luminary of the Barbizon School of artists. Although the reference to José de Ribera was inscribed on many of the associated plates from the series, and I have no trouble seeing the hallmarks of the great painter in Jacque’s use of dramatic lighting (chiaroscuro) and the resonating mood of religious piety of Ribera, this image is more about Jacque’s aesthetic sensitivities than Ribera’s master touch. Why I say this is all to do with the Jacque’s treatment of tone. Although I may be severely reprimanded for suggesting that the background behind the monk could serve just as well as a background for one of Jacque’s chicken pens, I hope my point is not lost. Jacque draws freely and approximates a visual effect; he doesn’t render in a mimetic way. After all, what history now values about Jacque is his free drawing and visual honesty in showing everyday life.  




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