Thursday, 9 February 2017

Paul Ponce Antoine Robert and Nicolas Le Sueur’s etching and aquatint in the style of a chiaroscuro woodcut of St Paul with two saints


Paul Ponce Antoine Robert de Séri (aka Paul Ponce Antoine Robert) (1686–1733) and Nicolas Le Sueur (aka Nicolas Lesueur) (1690-1764)

“St Paul accompagné de deux saintes” (St Paul with two Saints), c.1729/64, after a drawing by Barthelemy Ramenghi (more commonly known as Bagnacavallo) (1485–1542), plate 79 from the series “Recueil d'estampes d'après les plus beaux tableaux et d'après les plus beaux desseins qui sont en FranceRecueil CrozatCabinet Crozat.”

Etching with aquatint in the style of a chiaroscuro woodcut on laid paper with a watermark and margins as published. Note: the earlier states of this print (c.1729) used actual woodcuts rather than the aquatint plate published by Basan in 1764.
Size: (sheet) 49 x 32.9 cm; (plate) 42.2 x 27.5 cm; (image borderline) 38.4 x 26.4 cm
Basan edition 1764 with the original woodcut plate replaced with an aquatint plate

Lettered with title and production detail: “Dessein de Barthelemy Ramenghi dit Bagnacavallo, qui est dans le Cabinet de Mr Crozat / Gravé à l'eau forte par P. P. A. Robert, et en bois sous sa conduite par Nicolas le Sueur” (Design of Barthelemy Ramenghi called Bagnacavallo, which is in the Cabinet of Mr Crozat / Etched by P. P. Robert, and wood under his leadership by Nicolas le Sueur); numbered on plate, lower right: '79'.
Robert-Dumesnil 1835-71 I.282.9 (Robert-Dumesnil, A P F, Le Peintre-Graveur Français, 11 vols.)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print (note that the BM's impression is printed in brown ink):
“St Paul standing at centre, with book and sword, flanked by two female saints, one of whom is seen holding a vase; musician angels seated on clouds above them; after a drawing by Bagnacavallo. c.1729/64 Aquatint imitating a chiaroscuro woodcut, printed in two shades of brown, over etched lines” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3170598&partId=1&searchText=Nicolas+Le+Sueur+&page=1)

The curator of the BM offers the following insights into the series known as 'Recueil Crozat” of which this print is number 79:
“… a series of plates commissioned by Crozat and reproducing famous paintings and drawings of the era; 140 plates were published in 1729. A second volume formed by 42 prints (instead of the 110 plates initially planned) was issued in 1740.
After Crozat's death, the plates were sold to a company of booksellers who commissioned Mariette to reorganize the 'Recueil'; Mariette divided the plates into two volumes, added some missing descriptions, and advertised the set to the public in 1742.
In 1764, Basan bought the plates and the text, and republished the 'Recueil', but replaced the woodcuts by intaglio prints. ... where an attempt to imitate the effect of a chiaroscuro woodcut is made by using aquatint instead; some of the plates from this edition bear the signature of F. P. Charpentier, who invented a method akin to aquatint ... Basan also published the 45 plates reproducing the Italian paintings from the collection of the Duc d'Orléans in a volume entitled 'Recueil d'après la gallerie du palais royal' (see Heinecken, 'Idée générale d'une collection d'estampes', Paris 1771, p.76).” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1430522&partId=1&museumno=1907%2C1121.14&page=2)

Condition: crisp and well-printed impression with margins. The sheet has light signs of handling in the margins; otherwise the sheet is in excellent condition for its age (i.e. there are no tears, holes, losses, foxing or significant stains).

I am selling this museum quality, early intaglio print replicating the illusion of a chiaroscuro woodcut print for the total price of AU$226 (currently US$172.46/EUR161.25/GBP137.30 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this rarel print and a marvellous example of 18th century technical excellence in the subtle art of trompe l'oeil, 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


In my previous post of a mezzotint (with etching) by Johann Christian Rugendas I discussed a key difference in the traditional approach to rendering light and shade that distinguishes Italian from German prints. Essentially, the Germans lean towards using a black outline around flat patterning of tones (e.g, Dürer's chiaroscuro woodcut, “Rhinoceros”), whereas the Italians lean towards abutting tones without black outlines (e.g. Ugo da Carpi’s chiaroscuro woodcut, “Diogenes”).

As proposed in the last post, I intended to exhibit an English approach to rendering light and shade in chiaroscuro woodcuts, but I was surprised when I looked through my inventory to discover that I didn’t have such a print by any of the leading English luminaries in this field (viz. Elisha Kirkall, Charles Knapton and Arthur Pond). Nevertheless, even though this print that I am showing was executed entirely by French printmakers, it exemplifies perfectly the English approach of using etched lines to outline flat patterning of woodcut printed tone.

Of course, this print takes the process even further than the English custom of combining intaglio with relief processes in the manner of Kirkall, Knapton and Pond. Here the flat patterns of tone are rendered using aquatint as a trompe l'oeil device (i.e. “to fool the eye”) replicating the “look” of a woodcut.

(Note: I apologise for broad generalisation in my above outline of cultural differences of style and I acknowledge that there are many inconvenient truths that have been ignored.)
For those interested in finding out more about different styles of portraying tone, I strongly recommend reading Robert N Essick and Joseph Viscomi’s online article: “An Inquiry into William Blake’s Method of Color Printing” (http://bq.blakearchive.org/35.3.essick).






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