Saturday, 31 December 2016

Claude Mellan’s engraving, “Portrait of Jean-Pierre Camus, Évêque de Belley”


Claude Mellan (1598-1688)
“Portrait of Jean-Pierre Camus, Évêque de Belley”, 1653, published in “Dreux du Radier's 'L'Europe illustre'” (Paris: Odieuvre & Breton, 1755-1765). (Note that this print has been attributed to circa 1637 [see http://twowaystreet.herokuapp.com/things/PPA48059], but this is not a feasible proposal as the plate is inscribed with the date of Camus’ death in 1652. Consequently, I am relying on the date of 1653 advised by Montaiglon)

Engraving on laid paper with large margins.
Size: (sheet) 24.6 x 16.3 cm; (plate) 15.5 x 10.6 cm; (image borderline) 12.9 x 9.9 cm
Lettered below the image borderline: (left) “Mellan Sculp.”; (centre) “JEAN PIERRE CAMUS / Evêque de Belley / Mort à Paris, le 26. Avril 1652, agé de 70 ans, / A Paris chez Odieuvre Md. d'Estampes, quai de l'Ecole vis à vis la Samaritaine a la belle Image C.P.R."
State ii (of ii) (See an impression from the first state at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/393059)
Montaiglon 1856, no. 176, State ii/ii (Montaiglon, Anatole de. “Catalogue raisonne de l'oeuvre de Claude Mellan d'Abbeville”. Abbeville: P.Briex, 1856)

Condition: crisp impression in excellent condition.

I am selling this genuine engraving by the illustrious engraver, Claude Mellan, for the total cost of AU$148 (currently US$106.57/EUR101.41/GBP86.33 at the time of this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this insightful portrait, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


This sensitive portrait of Jean-Pierre Camus (1584–1652), the Bishop of Belley—famous for his works of fiction and spirituality (e.g. "Nature's paradox: Or, the Innocent Imposter”, trans. John Wright [London, J.G. for Edward Dod and Nathaniel Ekins, 1652]) —is interesting to compare with my previous post of a portrait by an unidentified engraver executed with the use of a pantograph. Both portraits rely solely on the use of parallel lines to depict the portrayed figure but there is a difference of stylistic approach separating how light and shade are represented. In the pantograph tonal gradations are shown by subtle directional variations in the close alignment of vertical lines that are all of the same line thickness. In Mellan’s engraving, tonal gradations are shown by fine adjustments to the thickness of each line in the sense each line tapers and swells according to the contours of the figure. Mellan’s skill in employing this approach to rendering tone reached its most idiocentic point of technical virtuosity in his masterpiece, “The Veil of St Veronica” (1649), executed in a single line drawn as a spiral (see http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1350785&partId=1). While I am amazed that anyone could ever create such a stunning feat of disciplined perseverance as Mellan’s engraving of the Sudarium, his engraving of the bishop should be studied closely for other reasons. After all, this small portrait was created around five years after his acclaimed masterwork and it has all the hallmarks of a mature artist’s style: a simplicity of approach that relies on expression of meaning rather than bravura and an unhesitating flow of confident strokes that capture the essential attributes of the portrayed subject.







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